I saw an interesting index just recently - ENR's Construction Industry Confidence Index, or CICI. This is an expression of sentiment of construction industry executives about their views of the economy in their sector. Unfortunately it's rather depressing. An index of 50 indicates stability, neither growing nor shrinking. For the 1st quarter of 2010, the index is 34! This was up just a little from 31 of late 2009, but a long ways to go. 68% of construction executives say the economy is still getting worse!
The only silver lining I see is that our particular sector of education construction isn't nearly as bad as some. K-12 is at an index of 47, and higher ed is at 51, meaning these sectors are pretty stable and perhaps have hit bottom. I sure hope so! I do think the recovery will be long and slow, particularly in the public-funded institutional market. Stimulus money and Build America Bonds will help, but the pipeline is now drying up quickly, and it will take a lot to fill it again. We are preparing for an extended slump, and planning our business accordingly (which means new ideas, new markets, and more).