Leading the optimists in this year’s group of forecasters is FMI Corp. The Denver-based industry management consultant predicts that total construction will increase 2.2% in 2007 to $1.18 trillion, following an estimated increase of 3.4% this year. “We tend to be a bit optimistic but, if anything, I think our estimates for 2006 may be on the low side, given recent reports on construction put-in-place from the U.S. Commerce Dept.,” says Heather Jones, a construction economist with FMI. In the short term, she thinks the lodging market will be one of the fastest growing, but in the long term, she is betting on health care and education. “While their growth rates are lower than other sectors, the volume of the health care and education markets is strong and will keep getting stronger over the next five years,” says Jones. She expects the manufacturing market to keep growing and by “2008, we won’t be playing catch up anymore,” she says.

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