“The modest increases should be able to be sustained as we proceed into 2014 and beyond,” Murray said.

The manufacturing sector remains a modest pace. In 2012, the manufacturing sector saw starts drop 25% to $12.9 billion. Starts could see a 6% increase by the end of 2013 to $3.8 billion and an 8% increase in 2014 to $14.9 billion. Historically, that level is low, tallying at less than half the 2008 volume when $31 billion in starts were reported.

Given the financial woes of many states and municipalities nationwide, public sector work remains a challenge. Since 2011, when $106.6 billion in starts were reported, public sector work has remained relatively flat with $114.3 billion expected for 2013 and $108.9 billion in 2014. After at 12% gain this year in highways and bridges, Murray forecasts that starts volume will retreat 5% in 2014.

Restrained public funding is also creating a drag on the institutional market. Murray notes that the educational building market hit its fifth consecutive year of decline this year, but it could bottom out and begin to inch back up in 2014. Health-care construction also remains soft. After 76-million-sq-ft of starts in 2011, the pace slackened to 68 million square feet in 2013. Murray forecast that level will remain flat in 2014.

Non-building projects starts represent the biggest drag on overall activity. Murray estimates that non-building project starts will drop 15% this year and could fall another 9% next year. The largest drop will occur in the electric utilities sector, which Murray says is undergoing a major correction in light of over-capacity issues. Starts hit an all-time high in 2012 of $50.9 billion in starts, in part due to the groundbreaking of two new nuclear facilities. This year, starts are expected to drop 55% to $23 billion and another 33% drop in 2014 to $15.5 billion.

“After a record high and signs of over-building, the correction is coming pretty steeply and it still has a way to go,” Murray said.