Nov 1, 2021 - Economy

Where the construction boom isn't

Data: U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Axios Visuals

The building boom for places we go to have fun is over: Spending has slumped since the pandemic hit — and the drop-off isn’t letting up, per data out this morning.

  • This category is broad: It includes everything from bowling alleys to racetracks to theme parks. But they're all places people gather, typically for hobbies.

Why it matters: Construction spending on these venues soared in the years leading up to the pandemic, with a ton of new places like sporting arenas and casinos springing up. Now the big question is how many more of these types of facilities are necessary if COVID-19 shifted our habits.

  • “The pandemic impacted things like fitness center construction,” says Anirban Basu, an economist at Associated Builders and Contractors, an industry trade group.
  • Working out at home might be here to stay, Basu says — leading to questions about whether there's enough demand to warrant new facilities.

Other big reasons for the slowdown: The shortage of materials has resulted in higher costs, and workers are hard to find. That’s led to a pullback in all types of construction projects.

The bottom line: Spending to build places that bring us joy has slowed, but the money hasn’t stopped flowing entirely. And some projects put on ice are restarting.

  • After a pandemic-induced pause, construction restarted earlier this year on Universal’s first new theme park in 20 years.
Go deeper