27%

Percentage of construction firms, according to the results of an industry-wide survey conducted as part of the “Construction Industry Hiring and Business Outlook,” that say they plan to add staff in 2011 compared to 20% that report they are planning layoffs. The outlook is more positive for 2011, given that 55% of firms laid off staff and only 20% added employees in 2010.

Source: Associated General Contractors of America

2.2

Number of points the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) rose in December, reaching its highest mark since December 2007. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine- to 12-month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending. The December ABI score was 54.2, up from 52.0 the previous month. This score reflects an increase in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 62.6, up slightly from a mark of 61.4 in November.

Source: American Institute of Architects

22,536

Number of units real-estate information provider CoStar expects will be added to the nation’s apartment supply in 2011, followed by 94,588 units in 2012 and just more than 109,000 units in 2013 — increases of 320% and 384%, respectively — over the current year. By 2015, CoStar expects development will ramp up to its 10-yr historical average.

Source: CoStar

53%

Percentage of employers recently responding to the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ “Job Outlook 2011 Fall Preview Survey” that indicated they would like to hire electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and computer science majors. In addition to engineering, other industries topping the list of in-demand college graduates included accounting (62%) and finance majors (57%).

Source: My Colleges and Careers

19%

Percentage increase in new construction starts in December, measured at a seasonally adjusted annual rate. According to a recent report from MHC, “Nonresidential building rebounded after a weak November, and nonbuilding construction was lifted by the start of several large electric utility projects. Meanwhile, residential building in December showed slight growth, continuing the gradual upward trend of recent months. For 2010 as a whole, total construction starts dropped 2% to $412.5 billion, a less severe decline than the 24% plunge for 2009.”

Source: McGraw-Hill Construction (MHC)