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Experian Q4 Metro Business Pulse reveals struggling construction industry despite housing recovery

March 04, 2014 by Gary Stockton


In our latest update, small businesses in the construction industry had a lower than average risk score**, paid their bills more days beyond contracted terms, had higher bankruptcy rates and a greater percentage of delinquent debt than other industries.


In Florida, while we are seeing some modest improvement in the number of days beyond contracted terms comparing Q3 to Q4, the delinquency rate for construction is well above the national average compared to other industries. We found these results a bit surprising. According to the BidClerk Construction Index for Q3, public and private sector projects were up 13.5 percent. Notwithstanding this double-digit rise in activity, construction companies throughout the Sunshine State are clearly facing a mammoth cash-flow crisis. In Fort Myers, an alarming 47.3 percent of construction firms’ balances are being paid an average 26 days beyond contracted terms.

Metro area



Percent Change

Ft. Myers-Cape Coral








Miami, FL




West Palm Beach/Boca Raton








Ft. Lauderdale




“The collapse of the housing market during the recession had an obvious impact on the construction industry’s ability to manage and meet financial obligations,” said Joel Pruis, Experian’s senior business consultant. “However, as the market continues to recover, it will be imperative for these businesses to get ahead of their finances and pay down existing delinquent debt. Doing so will enable them to obtain the adequate funding and resources to improve their company’s viability, as well as protect them against any potential future setbacks.”

For deeper insights download the latest Experian / Moody's Analytics Small Business Credit Index Report.


So which are the small business credit standout industries?

Findings from Metro Business Pulse did show that there were some great success stories in Q4, particularly when you consider the government shutdown and health care policy changes during the quarter. Businesses in the utilities sector, for example, had some of the most impressive risk scores, particularly Pittsburgh, who tops our list with a risk score of 81.2, which was 23 percent above the national average for that industry. The utilities industry also did a great job paying bills on time, particularly in Grand Rapids, MI, where the average utility bill was paid 0.2 days beyond terms, more than 7 days faster than the national average.

What happens in Vegas may stay in Vegas, but when it comes to delinquency rates in the communications industry, Las Vegas stands above all others with a mere 0.2 percent of dollars considered delinquent, more than 20 percent less than the national average for the industry.

Looking again at the struggling construction industry, we found it quite ironic that the lowest small business bankruptcy rate for the industry was in Nassau, New York, a metropolitan area whose bankruptcy rates have remained stable for several quarters. Nassau’s 0.6 percent bankruptcy rate was 1.7 percent lower than the average rate within that industry.

Category: Business Risk Score

Industry Top metro area Risk score National avg. Delta
Utilities Pittsburgh, PA 81.2 58.2 23.0%
Insurance Syracuse, NY 69.3 57.0 12.3%
Agriculture Salem, OR 73.2 61.7 11.6%
Public Services Pittsburgh, PA 72.4 62.3 10.1%
Hospitality Atlantic Cape, NJ 59.0 49.2 9.8%

Category: Days Beyond Terms

Industry Top Metro Area Avg. Days National Avg. Delta
Utilities Grand Rapids, MI 0.2 7.3 7.1
Real Estate Grand Rapids, MI 3.4 6.8 6.8
Finance Oklahoma City, OK 3.5 9.7 6.2
Hospitality Duluth, MN 0.1 5.3 5.2
Insurance Bergen, NJ 2.0 6.4 4.4

Category: Delinquency Rates

Industry Top Metro Area Del. Rate National Avg. Delta
Communications Las Vegas, NV 0.2% 20.5% 20.3%
Construction Houston, TX 3.6% 22.4% 18.9%
Finance Santa Rosa, CA 0.4% 18.1% 17.7%
Manufacturing Salt Lake City, UT 1.3% 16.1 14.8%
Real Estate Boise City, ID 0.4% 13.3% 12.9%

Category: Bankruptcy Rates

Industry Top Metro Area Bankruptcy Rate National Avg. Delta
Construction Nassau, NY 0.6% 2.3% 1.7%
Agriculture Nassau, NY 0.2% 1.4% 1.2%
Business Services Baton Rouge, LA 0.3% 1.3% 1.0%
Finance Memphis, TN 0.3% 1.4% 1.0%
Manufacturing New Orleans, LA 0.9% 1.8% 0.9%

Attend our upcoming webinar for insights on what this all means

Want to take a deep dive on the health of small business credit? Join us on March 18 at 10:00 a.m. (PST) for the Quarterly Business Credit Review webinar. Joel Pruis, senior business consultant with Experian’s Global Consulting Practice and economists from Moody’s Analytics will go in depth on macro-economic trends shaping the health of small business in the United States. Don’t miss being part of the discussion as our experts review small business trends from the final months of 2013, and provide insight into how they might impact your business in 2014! See you there.

Register Now



Read our related post: “Will you be able to survive the construction industry recovery?

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