While the value of total construction in the United States (including private, housing, apartments and commercial) will be down by 2 percent in 2008, there are pockets of significant growth in government/public construction projects, McGraw-Hill Construction Research and Analytics predicts in its “2008 Construction Outlook.”

McGraw-Hill forecasts that the value of public works construction will be up 3 percent in 2008 over 2007 levels. Total value of public works construction in 2008: $121 billion, compared to $117.9 billion in 2007.

According to McGraw-Hill, several public-sector construction markets thrived in 2007. The value of new courthouse and capitol-building projects increased 38 percent over 2006 levels, while the value of detention-facility construction rose 16 percent over year-earlier levels. Police- and fire-station construction rose 10 percent.

For information on McGraw-Hill's forecasting program, visit http://www.construction.com.

Fueled by prison overcrowding, public-safety construction will grow

According to Raleigh, N.C.-based market research firm FMI, public-safety construction will expand in the next few years.

“FMI anticipates solid growth through 2011, increasing from $12.8 billion to $18 billion,” Heather Jones, FMI’s construction economist, told GovPro.com. “The expected average growth of 9 percent per year through 2011 constitutes a total increase in public safety put-in-place construction of $5.2 billion, or 41 percent.”

Much of that growth will be fueled by overcrowding in correctional facilities, Jones added.

As the number of inmates entering the penal system grows faster than the number of inmates being released, overcrowding will persist until additional facilities are built,” Jones told GovPro.com. “The Bureau of Justice Statistics reported the total number of inmates in state and federal prisons and local jails increased 2.3 percent in 2005, 2.6 percent in 2006 and 2.8 percent in 2007. For perspective, consider that the national population growth rate hovered around 1 percent annually during these same years.”

No question about it: Public-safety construction, including the building of new detention facilities, is a growth industry. Forbes recently reported that at least one small-cap mutual fund is snapping up shares of stocks of companies in the private-prison industry.

Prisons in the United States currently house one-third more inmates than they were built to hold. What’s more, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is coming down hard on illegal immigrants by imprisoning those that they catch. Federal and state governments still own and operate most prisons in the United States; the private-prison industry operates less than 10 percent of prisons nationally.

Look for the 'Keating Report' in January

For more information on government construction trends and projects, read the "Keating Report" in the January edition of Government Product News.

The "Keating Report" offers a complete snapshot of the government market. In addition to forecasts of government purchases through 2014, you’ll also find highlights of new technology in use in all levels of government, as well as forecasts of federal revenues into the next decade and a comprehensive look at government fleet-management practices as we start the New Year.

Findings from our exclusive GovPro.com poll on our readers’ predictions for their agency/departments’ 2008 budgets will be a key part of the 2008 "Keating Report." Also, experts from government trade groups, Washington think tanks and government administrators will weigh in on how they see 2008 government budgets shaping up.

Last but not least, look for a complete calendar of 2008 government-market events in the January issue.

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