Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) recently released its Construction Backlog Indicator (CBI) for the fourth quarter of 2011. CBI declined 3.2% from the previous quarter from 8.1 months to 7.8 months, but is still up 10.9% compared to the fourth quarter of 2010. CBI is a forward-looking economic indicator that measures the amount of nonresidential construction work under contract to be completed in the future.

"Overall, the latest CBI numbers indicate a degree of stalling in the recovery of the nation's nonresidential construction industry, likely due to a combination of the soft patch that developed in the broader economy early last year, a number of seasonal factors, and the winding down of federal stimulus projects," said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. "But the good news is that given the recent acceleration in economic and employment growth, CBI is positioned to rebound more forcefully during the quarters ahead.

“In addition, the most recent data reflect the ongoing expansion in privately funded construction activity as opposed to the contraction of publicly funded construction," Basu continued. "The nation’s smaller construction firms are gaining an advantage from this shift, in contrast to the decreased construction activity among the larger firms that had benefitted from earlier federal stimulus projects and military base realignment-related construction."

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