Even with the $135 billion stimulus package proposed by President Obama, non-residential construction through the first three quarters of 2009 is likely to be 6%-7% less (inflation adjusted) versus 2008, Reed Construction Data (RCD) estimates.
The overall package represents an approximately 8.5% increase in non-residential construction, explains Jim Haughey, RCD chief economist. However, capacity constraints will lessen the practical impact of the spending.
"If half of the construction stimulus funds re spent in 2009, capacity constraints and rapidly rising costs will return and be more serious than in late 2007 and early 2008," Haughey says.
But half the money won't be spent in 2009, he adds. "The capacity does not exist," in many areas of proposed spending such as highway ($30 billion), laboratories ($3.4 billion) and federal projects ($27 billion) that would have to be managed by the U.S. Corps of Engineers, which is already behind schedule on current projects, he states.