Excavating contractors: industry overview and trends to watch

What to expect in employment trends, technology trends and more

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Description of operations

Excavating and grading contractors are in the business of preparing land for construction. Their primary work often involves grading and digging trenches and foundations. Some excavating contractors may also perform related tasks, including installing drainage pipes in trenches or working with concrete. Excavators and graders typically use heavy equipment to move earth and materials. Such equipment includes bulldozers, front-end loaders, excavators, skid steers, backhoes and graders.

Revenue for excavating contractors typically comes from building construction. In fact, 75% of their revenue is tied to the construction of residential and nonresidential buildings, with the other 25% coming from nonbuilding-related construction.1 In terms of nonbuilding-related construction, excavating contractors may assist on road projects, but road construction companies often handle that work themselves.

Excavating and grading contractors are covered under the following codes:

Industry outlook and trends

According to IBIS World, as of March 2020 there were: 1

  • 43,572 excavation businesses
  • 313,067 jobs
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Additionally, the industry reached $69 billion in revenue and experienced 2.7% annual growth between 2015 and 2020. Excavation work is tied closely to new building construction and infrastructure spending. While continued industry growth is anticipated, the rate is expected to slow over the next five years. The industry will probably experience significant disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic downturn it has caused.

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The industry reached $69 billion in revenue and experienced 2.7% annual growth between 2015 and 2020.1

Insights on major lines of coverage

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Recommended lines of coverage: Property, workers’ compensation, commercial auto, inland marine, business income, general liability (products — complete operations, premises and operations) and umbrella.


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1IBISWorld. (Jan., 2020). Excavation Contractors Industry in the US — Market Research Report.