Construction backlog up 4.5 percent in first quarter of 2010

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The  Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) released its Construction Backlog Indicator (CBI) for the first quarter of 2010 showing a 4.5 percent increase in construction backlog orders to 6.07 months, up from 5.81 months in the fourth quarter of 2009. Over the two-month period from February to March of this year, CBI shot up 17 percent and now stands at 6.05 months.

While the CBI rose in all areas of the country except the West from February to March, the Northeastern United States is the only region to see a higher backlog when compared to March 2009. CBI is a forward-looking indicator that measures the amount of construction work under contract to be completed in the future.

“The fact that the CBI is on the rise illustrates that the improvements recently seen in various other indicators, including construction spending, will continue through much of the balance of 2010,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “However, the overall impact of the recession may not be at an end or approaching an end. It remains too soon to tell whether the current momentum will continue through 2011.

“As an indicator, the nonresidential construction industry tends to lag the overall economy by 12 to 24 months. With the broader economy having been in recovery for the better part of a year, and with stimulus spending still having an impact, the expectation is that for now, backlog will remain stable or better in the months ahead,” Basu said. “Still, there are many forces at work that suggest that the sector’s recovery may not be sustained as stimulus monies are steadily drawn down and commercial construction remains weak due to high vacancy rates and tight credit,” Basu said.

Overall, the nation’s nonresidential construction industry is in the early stages of a rebound, and this is apparent in CBI statistics for the Northeast, South and Middle States. However, it appears momentum has stalled in the West, which may be due in part to the prevalence of serious state and local fiscal issues, as well as weak housing market performance,” said Basu.

 Visit  www.abc.org for additional details on construction backlog.

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