Industry forecasters at CMD's 6th annual North American Construction Forecast conference delivered bad and good news: the rest of 2001 and much of 2002 will see declines in construction activity and the economy in general. But most presenters also predicted quick recovery by 2003. The event was held October 16 at the National Press Club and attended by more than 300 construction industry leaders.

According to Bill Toal, chief economist for the Portland Cement Association, the U.S. construction industry can expect an overall decline of 6.3 % in activity next year due to the economic downturn. Still, "by historical contrast, this would put construction spending back to slightly above 1998 levels, which were record levels of activity," he said.

"We expect a 10% decline in private, non-residential construction spending next year after a 5.4% drop this year," Toal said.

Toal said it won't take long for the construction industry to recover, and he predicts the construction industry overall will see a 4.2% increase by 2003.