What a difference a year makes. In the second quarter of 2008, construction starts had moved slightly off the record-run rate of the previous three years. The economic bloodletting set off by the subprime meltdown did not really spill over into construction until the second half of the year.
Now, by any measurement in any place, we are in a deep recession. Unemployment tops 10% in many regions, with construction joblessness pushing California’s overall rate to 11.2%— the highest level ever recorded. Construction starts in the nonbuilding sector were off 19% for April, according to McGraw-Hill Construction Research & Analytics, like ENR a unit of The McGraw-Hill Cos.