With the Associated General Contractors of America proclaiming that new federal figures show that private construction investments declined by 20.6% between September 2008 and September 2009, I guess it’s now safe to say that lenders are no longer lending. Period. End of story.

AGC’s CEO Stephen E. Sandherr adds sarcastically that business conditions are so dire for the nation’s contractors and their 6 million employees that “the only green shoots contractors are seeing are the weeds sprouting around their idle construction equipment.” Nice.

These latest figures include the depressing fact that private construction spending declined from $774 billion a year in September 2008 to $614 billion this year. The biggest losers are lodging (-37.4%), office (-33.3%) and commercial structures (-36%).

Office and commercial structure losses reflect the hard fact that owners are not hiring employees, and when that situation rebounds is anyone’s guess.

Manufacturing and power construction were the only parts of the private construction market to see increased investments, with 11% and 4.8% gains, respectively.

And publicly funded investments in construction did increase over the past year by 6.1%, from $308 billion to $326 billion, the AGC says. Public spending on commercial facilities and power structures grew the most, with 28.8% and 27.2% increases, respectively, over the past year. However, water supply and sewage investments actually declined by 1.9% and 1.8% percent, respectively.

“Increased public investments in construction and infrastructure are welcome news, but this industry will continue to suffer while demand for private construction continues to plummet,” Sandherr says. He calls for a quick extension of the first-time home buyers tax credit and expansion of the carry back of net operating loss provision from two to five years for all businesses for 2008, ‘09 and ‘10 as a way to stimulate new private demand for construction.

And in today’s San Francisco Chronicle, an article, entitled “S.F. Construction not expected to grow for years after rebound,” says that the credit freeze that occurred more than a year ago has not thawed and even if loans were available, the prices that developers could currently fetch wouldn’t cover the cost of land, construction and a reasonable profit.

So, while the local market tries to elbow its way out of the slump, a federal government organization is conducting a series of U.S. road shows this and next week to illuminate builders on green building opportunities in Europe. Yes, Europe.

As they say in certain circles, "It's a Small World After All," and it's getting smaller.

The U.S. Commercial Service, which has offices in 108 U.S. cities and locations in U.S. embassies and consulates in nearly 80 countries, basically helps U.S. companies export. As part of its overall effort, the USCS is focusing on helping expand international sales of U.S. green technologies. Its efforts are aimed at architecture/design firms, engineering companies, manufacturers and suppliers.

I’ll have more on this in my next blog, but go to the USCS website for more information on the road shows, which will take place this Friday, Nov. 6, in San Jose at the San Jose City Hall, and next Monday, Nov. 9, at the offices of Nixon Peabody in San Francisco.