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ABC forecasts 'sluggish' year

WASHINGTON — Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) has released its 2010 economic forecast for the commercial and industrial construction industry.

“While the industry battled the effects of the recession in 2009, expect 2010 to be a transitional but sluggish year on the road to recovery,” said ABC chief economist Anirban Basu.

“Through late 2008, the industry held up well, but 2009 was a year of retrenchment for many construction sectors, including those associated with private development and municipal projects. Overall, the non-residential construction industry has been impacted by a combination of financing constraints, massive job loss and a lack of confidence in local economies across the nation due to falling tax revenues.

ABC has been highly pessimistic regarding the health of the non-residential construction industry in 2009. For the most part, these dire expectations were met despite the passage of a massive stimulus package in February. As ABC had predicted, contractors did enjoy some relief in the form of generally declining materials prices, but this did not fully offset the impact of diminished contracting opportunities, and many ABC members reported declining revenues and shrinking backlogs throughout calendar 2009. The major exceptions were those firms benefiting from federal project spending, working to help retool major manufacturing establishments, and involved in America’s expanding energy complex.

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