2003, here we come!

Here’s one of  those sentences that you can’t help but feel hit you in the face.

“To put it in perspective, in 2012 we will nearly return to 2003 levels of construction in current dollars.”


So what is being put into perspective?  It’s FMI’s latest forecast for construction put in place which calls for 2 percent growth this year and 6 percent growth next year in total construction. In constant 2006 dollars that’s only a 3 percent growth for 2012 and a 1 percent drop in construction this year, says FMI. That’s what is being put into perspective.

We are talking all construction in this report, not transportation construction, so the numbers are not specific to our industry. But they can, and should, hit us in the face.FMI concedes it’s not happy happy news, but the company sees the construction economy “inching along” with some good news buried in the numbers. And also in these numbers are indicators of the future of transportation infrastructure spending, job bills and reauthorization notwithstanding.

I think the one thing I would choose to take out of it, especially after warnings from on high, i.e. the Federal Reserve chairman, that our recovery is wobbly, is that there is optimism and growth. Both are weak, but they are indicators that we are headed in the right direction. We’re moving painfully slowly but that’s more encouraging that a complete stall or regression. So 2012’s relatively small growth number is more encouraging to me that a net 1 percent backsliding this year. In the end the report is ‘must’ reading to help understand the undercurrents that will influence where we will go, growth-wise.

FMI bills itself as the largest provider of management consulting and investment banking in the engineering and construction industry. The report is Construction Outlook: Third Quarter 2011 Report. You can read the full FMI report here.