Non-residential construction starts fell 8.2% in December, compared to the previous year, and 6.9% for all of 2009, compared to 2008, according to Reed Construction Data, Norcross, Ga. Building construction declined 27% for December and 17% for 2009, in a year-over-year comparison.

"Non-residential building starts weakened in December after a strong November," comments Jim Haughey, chief economist for Reed. "Usually, there is a seasonal upturn in December, so the 20% month-to-month decline is a significant weakening."