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 impact of the industry recession can be seen on the ENR Top 500 Design Firms list. The Top 500, taken as a group, had overall design revenue of $80.02 billion in 2009, down 11.7% from 2008’s figure of $90.85 billion. Domestically, Top 500 revenue fell 13.1%—to $59.22 billion in 2009 from $68.14 billion in 2008—while revenue from projects outside the U.S. dropped by 7.3%, to $20.80 billion last year from $22.44 billion.