Non-residential buildings started the year 21% below January 2009’s level, while non-building construction began the year 8% behind last year’s start, according to McGraw-Hill Construction’s data for new construction starts. The housing market is showing signs of turning around, beginning this year 18% above a year ago. The drop in the non-residential building market would have been even more severe if not for the inclusion of the $3-billion mass- transit hub in Lower Manhattan, which was included in the January data. Highway construction in 2009 was supported by stimulus spending that resulted in a 5% increase in the market. Without the stimulus funds, the highway market would have dropped 15% in 2009, says MHC chief economist Robert Murray.

Source: McGraw-Hill Construction Analytics. Construction contract value cumulative year-to-date through January 2010