McGraw-Hill Construction, part of The McGraw-Hill Cos., recently released its 2011 Construction Outlook, which predicts an increase in overall U.S. construction starts for next year. The level of construction starts in 2011 is expected to advance 8% to $445.5 billion, following the 2% decline predicted for 2010.

“While the economy is still facing headwinds, the stage is being set for construction to see modest improvement in 2011 from this year’s very weak activity,” says Robert A. Murray, VP of economic affairs at McGraw-Hill Construction, addressing nearly 400 construction executives and professionals at the 72nd annual Outlook 2011 Executive Conference in Washington, D.C. “We’re turning the corner, slowly. 2011 will be the first year of renewed growth for overall construction activity, and 2010 becomes the final year of a very lengthy and unusual construction cycle.”

Based on significant research and in-depth analysis of macro-trends, the 2011 Construction Outlook details the forecasts for each construction sector, as follows:

  • Single-family housing in 2011 will climb 27% in dollars, corresponding to a 25% increase in the number of units to 565,000 (McGraw-Hill Construction basis).
  • Multi-family housing will rise 24% in dollars and 23% in units, continuing to move gradually upward.
  • Commercial buildings will increase 16%, following a three-year decline, which dropped contracting 62% in dollar terms. The levels of activity expected for stores, warehouses, offices, and hotels in 2011 will still be quite weak by historical standards.
  • The institutional building market will slip an additional 1% in 2011, retreating for the third straight year. The difficult fiscal climate for states and localities will continue to dampen school construction, although the health care facilities category should see moderate growth.
  • Manufacturing buildings will increase 9% in dollars and 11% in square feet.
  • Public works construction will drop 1%, given the fading benefits of the federal stimulus act for highway and bridge construction.
  • Electric utilities will slide 10%, falling for the third year in a row.