The dollar value of construction starts during the first half of this year was $195 billion, or 36% less than the same period a year ago, according to McGraw-Hill Construction. The residential market continues to be a drag, showing a 46% decline from last year’s already depressed market. However, the nonresidential building market also is in a steep decline, falling 41% below 2008’s first-half total. “Non-residential building, hampered by the weak economy and tight bank lending, would see further erosion,” says Robert Murray, chief economist for MHC. “On the plus side, the boost to public works from the federal stimulus funding has only begun to emerge, with more gains to come,” says Murray. Housing may already have hit bottom in early 2009, he adds.

After Six Months, 2009 Volume Is Down 36% From a Year Ago
Source: McGraw-Hill construction analytics. Construction contract value cumulative year-to-date through June 2009.