The index is a widely accepted measure of architectural activity that leads construction spending by nine to 12 months.

Similarly, the University of Illinois’ monthly Flash Index for November shows that the state’s economy is still shrinking, but that the rate of decline has slowed for the second straight month. The November reading improved to 91 points, up from 90.7 in October and 90 in September.

The index had previously fallen steadily from a rating of 106.7 in July of 2007 to a low of 90 in September of this year. A rating of 100 is the dividing line between contraction and growth.

The index is computed using tax receipts from corporate income, personal income, and retail sales.

Although construction unemployment skyrocketed in 2009, the rate has slowed. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ November figures show that construction unemployment reached 19.4% nationwide, as 27,000 more workers lost their jobs during the month. But the rate was lower than the average of 63,000 construction jobs lost each month from May to October.

2010 Outlook Better, But Not By Much

Recently released projections from McGraw-Hill Construction, of which Midwest Construction magazine is a unit, say that construction for 2010 in Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, and Wisconsin will total $38.6 billion. That’s a 10.6% increase over $35.7 billion in 2009, but still 11.7% less than the $57.8 billion seen in 2008.

The McGraw-Hill projections put the four-state region’s 2010 non-residential and non-building construction at $27.5 billion. That’s 2.4% more than 2009’s $26.9 billion, but still down a whopping 39.7% from 2008’s $45.6 billion. Non-residential and non-building construction covers all projects except single- and multi-family residential housing.

The non-building category includes environmental and public works, highways and bridges and utilities.

Non-residential work takes in education buildings, healthcare facilities, hotels, motels, manufacturing buildings, offices, banks, commercial buildings, institutional buildings, stores, and restaurants.

Here are the state-by-state projections for combined non-residential and non-building construction in 2010:

Illinois will see $11.3 billion in 2010, up 8.4% from $10.4 billion in 2009, but down 44% from $20.1 billion in 2008.

Indiana will see $6.2 billion in 2010, down 4.2% from $6.4 billion in 2009, and down 56% from $14.1 billion in 2008.

Missouri will see $5.6 billion in 2010, down 2.6% from $5.7 billion in 2009, and down 6.4% from $5.96 billion in 2008.

Wisconsin will see $4.5 billion in 2010, up 4.7% from $4.3 billion in 2009, but down 16% from $5.4 billion in 2008.

McGraw-Hill’s projections show that residential construction in Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, and Wisconsin during 2010 will total $11.1 billion, up 25.1% from $8.1 billion in 2009, but still down 8.8% from $12.1 billion in 2008.

Experts Agree About Outllook

Speaking recently with executives from leading design, engineering, and...

...highest point since August of 2008. Although that peak is still below the score of 50 that separates decline from growth, the trend is starting to head in the right direction. AIA chief economist Kermit Baker noted that the trend points to further improvement in the months ahead.