A slow recovery period is projected for the non-residential construction industry this year, and 2011 spending levels are not anticipated to be enough to show growth over 2010 figures. While activity for institutional projects should hover near 2010 levels, there is likely to be a modest decline in commercial construction. Overall non-residential construction spending is expected to decrease by 2% in 2011, with 2012 seeing an increase of 5% in inflation adjusted terms.

These are highlights from the American Institute of Architects (AIA), Washington, D.C., semi-annual Consensus Construction Forecast, a survey of the nation’s leading construction forecasters.

"The key factors that have prevented an accelerated recovery include historically low lending rates for real estate projects, the lingering effects of general overbuilding, and an unfavorable bond market that has hampered the ability for municipalities to get the requisite funding to build new schools and hospitals," says AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Ph.D., Hon. AIA. "Conditions should improve later this year and gain momentum as we move into 2012, particularly for hotel, retail, and office building projects."

Baker adds, “Two areas that are of concern that may adversely affect the design and construction industry are the increasing federal budget deficit that will force private sector borrowing costs to increase and the likelihood that energy costs will increase in the coming years — as crude oil prices have doubled from their recent low in 2009."