The U.S. construction market remains mired in a recession, with few, if any, markets spared. In 2009, design firms looked for a turnaround this year, but so far there has been little relief. Industry companies now await a bounce back in 2011. However, leaders of the largest U.S. design firms, those on the cutting edge of any recovery, say there still are too many economic, political and financial uncertainties to predict when the marketplace will turn a corner.
The industry falloff showed no favoritism when inflicting pain to design firms. All 10 major markets measured in the Top 500 survey showed a decrease in design revenue. Hardest hit were the industrial process market, down 40.2% in 2009 from 2008; general building, down 20.1%, and telecommunications, down 20.6%. Other doubt-digit losers were power, down 14.3%; petroleum, down 11.8%, and hazardous waste, down 10.4%. The remaining markets generally were flat, including water, off 0.2%; sewer and waste, down 1.3%; transportation, down 0.1%, and manufacturing, down 0.8%.