The New Industrial Revolution: Rebuilding America and the World

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Despite many changes, the industry still struggles to build enough housing for a growing population.

March 4, 2019
Drew Buechley - Construction Executive

Conventional thinking says the Industrial Revolution ended more than a century ago. Yet one crucial industry has lagged behind revolutionary changes stemming from the transition from hand production methods to the use of machines and rise of factory systems. In the 1800s, these transitions caused an influx of people to urban centers, where the majority of those changes were centered. The outcome? Not enough capital or time to build adequate housing, pushing low-income newcomers into overcrowded, unsanitary slums, resulting in increased death rates and endemic levels of contagious diseases. While other industries mechanized and surged, construction remained stagnant in comparison to demand.

Fast forward to the 21st century where the U.S .benefits from a developed and industrialized world. Monumental gains in technology, combined with regulations designed to protect communities from polluted waters and disease, have drastically improved quality of life. Yet one similarity remains – the industry still struggles to build enough housing for a growing population. Urban centers have been neglected for decades while the rate of urbanization increases annually. Communities still have no access to clean drinking water and many suffer from crumbling infrastructure. Home ownership is out of reach for an entire generation, with metropolitan areas unable to keep up with demand for housing. At the very center of this lies the staid construction industry. Lagging behind the rest of the industrialized world in terms of technology advances, it has severely impacted the ability to maintain a livable nation and world.
Reprinted courtesy of Drew Buechley, Construction Executive, a publication of Associated Builders and Contractors. All rights reserved.


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