The economists at McGraw-Hill Construction, publishers of ENR Southeast, have handed us some of the latest forecast figures for 2011 construction starts in the states of Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas. Except for North Carolina, the prospects should be mostly up for 2011, according to the latest projections.

Following is a state-by-state review of McGraw-Hill Construction's predictions for 2011. Numbers here indicate the total value of new project starts.

Florida - Mild Growth: 2010 - The value of new project starts declined again in 2010, by 3%, to total roughly $24.1 billion overall. That was due mostly to a 27% drop in new nonresidential contracts. The nonbuilding sector improved by 8%, to total $8.9 billion, and residential starts jumped 15% to total $8.5 billion. 2011 - McGraw-Hill's economists are predicting a 9% overall gain for 2011, with the value of new contracts forecast to total $26.3 billion by yearend. Nonresidential should rebound by 19% in 2011 and deliver nearly $8 billion in new starts. Residential is forecast to grow again this year, by 21%. Nonbuilding projects will be down, though, by about 10% to total just over $8 billion.

Georgia - Getting Peachy Again: 2010 - Last year wasn't a great one for Georgia. Construction starts fell 8%, according to McGraw-Hill Construction, totaling nearly $10.5 billion. Nonbuilding starts fell 20%, to just over $2.3 billion, while nonresidential contracts declined by 12% to total $4.6 billion. The one positive sector was residential, which improved by an estimated 11% for a total of $3.5 billion. 2011 - This year should be much better, if the economists are correct. Overall, McGraw-Hill Construction is predicting a 40% jump, with 2011 starts estimated at nearly $14.7 billion. The nonresidential market should grow by 28% and total more than $5.9 billion, while the nonbuilding sector is set to nearly double to about $4.6 billion in new starts. Meanwhile, residential starts should jump by 19% and tally nearly $4.2 billion.

North Carolina: Slight Downturn: 2010 - Last year saw a roughly 5% drop in the overall value of total construction starts in North Carolina, with a final estimate of about $13.5 billion. Residential was the only bright spot, increasing by 8% to nearly $6 billion. But the nonbuilding sector dropped 10% to just under $2.7 billion, and the nonresidential market fell 14% to $4.9 billion. 2011 - McGraw-Hill Construction is again expecting two of the three construction categories to decline this year. This time, it'll be the nonresidential and residential markets. Nonresidential contracts will fall 7% to $4.5 billion, while residential will drop 9% to under $5.5 billion. The nonbuilding sector should jump by about 23%, however, and deliver $3.3 billion in new contracts. Overall, the prediction is for a 2% decline in new starts for 2011, with total construction estimated at $13.3 billion.

South Carolina: Big Gains Expected: 2010 - South Carolina saw a 6% decline in new starts last year, for a total construction volume of nearly $6.4 billion. Nonbuilding starts improved by 8% and tallied nearly $1.6 billion, and residential increased 1% to total $3.1 billion. Nonresidential contracts slid 25%, however, and totaled just $1.7 billion. 2011 - Double-digit percentage increases are expected across the board for 2011, with a whopping 43% overall jump forecast. That would bring South Carolina's total construction volume to more than $9.1 billion. The biggest percentage gain will be in the residential sector, where McGraw-Hill Construction is forecasting a 64% increase and more than $5 billion in new contracts. The nonresidential sector should bounce back with a 37% jump and more than $2.3 billion in new jobs. The nonbuilding sector will also improve, by 11%, and deliver nearly $1.8 billion in new starts.

What do you think? Do these numbers match up with you're seeing in your local market? Let us hear your thoughts!

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