North American equipment rental revenue totaled $38 billion in 2013 with United States revenue accounting for $33.3 billion, according to data released by the American Rental Association at The Rental Show in Orlando, Fla., this week. Canada accounted for the additional $4.7 billion in revenue, according to ARA. ARA projects rental revenues of $41.1 billion in 2014 and expects the industry to reach $52.3 billion by 2017, led by strong growth in the U.S. and steady growth in Canada.

Construction and industrial equipment rental continues to produce the largest share, with $22.3 billion in 2013. The general tool segment posted about $8.5 billion, with the party and event segment of the industry contributing $2.5 billion. Overall 2013 rental revenues grew at a year-over-year rate of 6.4 percent, with the construction and industrial equipment segment growing 7.3 percent. ARA said general tool grew at a 5.3 percent clip and party and event grew 2.8 percent.

“These numbers suggest that the economic recovery in the construction and industrial equipment market continues at a strong pace,” said Scott Hazleton, senior partner of IHS Global Insight, which compiles data for the ARA Rental Market Monitor. “The stronger growth in this segment is also evidence of the secular shift we have seen in recent years that results in more rental and fewer equipment purchases by contractors and industrial customers.”

According to ARA’s data, $11.1 billion was invested in rental equipment in 2013, with the construction and industrial sector investing $7.5 billion, with $3.2 billion invested in general tool and $400 million in party and event. Investment growth grew 10.3 percent year over year, ARA said, while acknowledging that the growth pace was slower than in 2011 and 2012 when recovery from recession led to significant fleet growth.

“We would expect investment growth to slow as the market stabilizes after the rapid re-fleeting that occurred following the financial crisis,” said John McClelland, ARA vice president for governmental affairs. “These investment numbers tell us the industry has caught up on the fleet side and is now investing for the future instead of trying to catch up with current demand.”

The forecast predicts U.S. rental revenue growth will exceed 7 percent through 2017, with construction and industrial peaking at 11.1 percent in 2015 and general tool peaking at 15.2 percent that same year.

“Overall, 2013 was another good year for the equipment rental industry as it continues to far outpace the general economy,” added Hazleton. “We continue to see the equipment rental industry as a leader in the economic recovery over the next five years.”

ARA added that rental penetration increased from 50.7 percent in 2012 -- when ARA and IHS released the first ARA Equipment Rental Penetration – to 52.9 percent. The rental penetration index is designed to measure the aggregate amount of rental equipment used in construction as a share of the total construction fleet measured on an original equipment cost basis.

“We believe this is a healthy increase in rental penetration on a year-over-year basis,” said McClelland. “This is a measure of rental growth measured against the entire construction fleet and not just measured against annual equipment sales.”