The special trade contractors, not elsewhere classified industry is comprised of a plethora of firms that provide a broad range of miscellaneous construction services. Examples of industry activities include bathtub refinishing, gasoline pump installation, grave excavation, swimming pool construction, post hole digging, wallpaper stripping, mobile home setup, house moving, fire escape installation, bowling alley construction, artificial turf installation, and sandblasting.
Painting and Wall Covering Contractors
Glass and Glazing Contractors
All Other Special Trade Contractors
The special trade contractors industry includes roughly 25,000 establishments according to the most recent data available from the U.S. Census Bureau. The average firm is small, employing less than 10 people. Annual industry revenues total roughly $20 billion.
While this diverse industry is hard to classify, a Department of Commerce survey notes that the industry's leading business category (based on value of construction work) is other commercial buildings, such as stores, restaurants, and auto service stations. This category is followed closely by outdoor swimming pools, industrial buildings and warehouses, fencing, single-family houses, and office buildings. A variety of other construction work accounts for the remainder of the total.
Although each sector of the industry is impacted by different factors, most specialty contractors are heavily dependent upon housing starts or new commercial and institutional construction. During the mid-1980s most contractors enjoyed steady expansion as commercial and residential building flourished. Likewise, when housing starts and commercial development stalled in the late 1980s and early 1990s, many contractors suffered immense setbacks. Total U.S. construction expenditures, in fact, actually declined 10 percent in inflation adjusted dollars between 1986 and 1992.
However, the construction industry saw strong growth between 1992 and 1999, as the general economy recovered, interest rates stayed relatively low, and housing starts boomed. For example, after dropping to just 1.01 million in 1991, single family and multi-family housing starts in the United States rose every year to 1.46 million in 1994. While starts dropped back to 1.35 million in 1995, they rose again to 1.45 million in 1996 and were about 1.64 billion...