It’s “official”: 2009 was a really bad year. The dollar value of new construction starts last year fell 26%, according to McGraw-Hill Construction’s December data. This follows annual declines of 13% in 2008 and 7% in 2007. Adding a new twist to the downward cycle was a 33% decline in the non-residential building market, which was even deeper than the 31% decline registered by the home building market. Despite a massive influx of stimulus spending, the non-building market finished last year 9% below 2008’s total. In the non-residential building market, the commercial sector was down 47%, stores and shopping centers were off 42%, and warehouse constuction tumbled 62%. However, the largest year-to-year decline was 66% for hotel and motel construction.