A slowdown in inventory accumulation and adverse weather limited first quarter real gross domestic product growth in the United States this year, but total equipment rental revenue growth in North America more than tripled the growth of the overall economy with a 6-percent gain in the first quarter of 2014, according to the latest American Rental Association forecast from the ARA Rental Market Monitor. Data for the Monitor is compiled by IHS Global Insight, a Lexington, Mass.-based economic forecasting firm.

The forecast projects total equipment rental revenue in North America to grow 7.5 percent in 2014 to total $40.8 billion. It predicts an additional 10.4-percent growth in 2015 to reach $45 billion and another 9.3 percent in 2016 to hit $49.2 billion. IHS projects growth of 7.7 percent in 2017 and 7.2 percent in 2018, with total revenue of $56.8 billion.

According to the projections, the general tool segment will have the highest compound annual growth rate at 10.2 percent during the five-year period, and will increase its share of total rental revenue from 24.2 percent in 2013 to 25.7 percent by 2018. Construction and industrial equipment revenue, driven by a stronger U.S. construction market, is expected to post a CAGR of 8.6 percent between 2014 and 2018 in North America.

The IHS Global Insight study forecasts total rental revenue of $35.9 billion in 2014, led by an 8.2-percent hike in construction and industrial rental revenue, and a 7.3-percent jump in general tool revenue.

In order to grow revenues, the study predicts that rental companies in the U.S. will continue to invest more than 30 percent of revenue in new equipment during the next five years. Total investment will reach $12.1 billion in 2014, $14.3 billion in 2015, $15.9 billion in 2016, $15.8 billion in 2017 and $16.2 billion in 2018.