The value of non-residential construction starts increased 16% in May (not seasonally adjusted), according to Reed Construction Data, Norcross, Ga., but was down 6.2% for the first five months in 2009 compared to the same period in 2008.

"Expect a mix of monthly gains and losses for the balance of the year, with average level of starts not significantly different from May," advises Jim Haughey, chief economist for Reed Construction Data. "Credit problems promise more delays and cancellations for commercial buildings and strained budget balances promise cutbacks in public building construction later this year."