McGraw-Hill Construction today released its 2011 Construction Outlook, designed for construction industry forecasting and business planning. The Outlook predicts an 8 percent increase in overall U.S. construction starts for next year, to $445.5 billion, following the 2 percent decline predicted for 2010.

“While the economy is still facing headwinds, the stage is being set for construction to see modest improvement in 2011 from this year’s very weak activity,” said Robert A. Murray, vp economic affairs at McGraw-Hill Construction, while addressing nearly 400 construction executives and professionals at the 72nd annual Outlook 2011 Executive Conference in Washington, D.C. “We’re turning the corner, slowly. 2011 will be the first year of renewed growth for overall construction activity, and 2010 becomes the final year of a very lengthy and unusual construction cycle.”

Based on significant research and in-depth analysis of macro-trends, the 2011 Construction Outlook details the forecasts for each construction sector, as follows:

Single family housingin 2011 will climb 27 percent in dollars, corresponding to a 25 percent increase in the number of units to 565,000 (McGraw-Hill Construction basis).

Multifamily housingwill rise 24 percent in dollars and 23 percent in units, continuing to move gradually upward.

Commercial buildingswill increase 16 percent, following a three-year decline, which dropped contracting 62 percent in dollar terms. The levels of activity expected for stores, warehouses, offices and hotels in 2011 will still be quite weak by historical standards.

The institutional building marketwill slip an additional 1 percent in 2011, retreating for the third straight year. The difficult fiscal climate for states and localities will continue to dampen school construction, although the healthcare facilities category should see moderate growth.

Manufacturing buildingswill increase 9 percent in dollars and 11 percent in square feet.

Public works constructionwill drop 1 percent, given the fading benefits of the federal stimulus act for highway and bridge construction.

Electric utilitieswill slide 10 percent, falling for the third year in a row.

The 2011 Construction Outlook was presented at the McGraw-Hill Construction Outlook Executive Conference in Washington, D.C., which brought together top executives and professionals from all areas of the construction industry. “This year’s Outlook showcased [some of] the industry’s best minds and most experienced players, from economists, to technologists, to industry analysts.” said Keith Fox, president, McGraw-Hill Construction.

In addition to the Construction Outlook, industry experts delivered forecasts for green building, residential building, building product manufacturers, building materials, technology and the economy as a whole.

“The U.S. economy is in the second year of economic expansion,” said Kathleen Camilli, president of Camilli Economics. “While the growth rate is currently modest, momentum is likely to grow as the economy responds to ongoing monetary and fiscal stimulus in the pipeline. Notwithstanding the financial crisis’ impact on residential and nonresidential construction, growth in this sector of the economy will continue to be driven by innovation in building technologies.” 

For more information on the 2011 Outlook, clickhereor attend a regional outlook event ( in Anaheim, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Fort Myers, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Seattle, or Tampa. Robert Murray will also present the 2011 Construction Outlook in a webinar on Dec. 9.