The dollar value of all new construction starts declined 15% in 2008, according to McGraw-Hill Construction’s year-end tally of the market, which it estimated reached $542.83 billion last year. The entire decline can be tied to the 39% drop in the value of residential building starts. The nonresidential building market ended the year with a 1% increase, while nonbuilding construction rose 4% last year. But nonresidential building was skewed by four massive oil refineries that were started last year. If those projects were excluded, the nonresidential market would have declined by 5% last year, says Robert Murray, MHC’s chief economist.