The AIA's semi-annual Consensus Construction Forecast, released today, has some (reasonably) good news for the industry. Spending for non-residential construction in the U.S. this year is expected to rise by 5 percent over last year's total of $300 billion, up from the 4.4 percent increase predicted in the July 2012 forecast. And the news is even better for 2014, with a 7.2 percent projected increase in spending.

"After seeing construction activity seesaw for much of last year, there is a much stronger sense that we have entered a recovery phase, and the industry is positioned to see continued economic improvement as we move through this year and into 2014," said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker in a statement released by the organization. "The resurgent housing market has led to a ripple effect where there is a need for more retail establishments and office buildings around the country."

Indeed, commercial and industrial projects are expected to lead the way, with an 8.6 predicted increase in spending for 2013. Hotels will epecially see strong growth of 15.7 percent. Institutional construction will witness only a small increase in 2013 (1.4 percent), but should rebound slightly by 2014 (4.7 percent). Heathcare projects should be the strongest component of growth in the institutional sector.

The forecast is based on a composite of the leading construction forecasters in the U.S., including McGraw Hill, Wells Fargo Securities, IHS-Global Insight, Moody's, Reed Business Information, Associated Builders & Contractors, and FMI.

Baker, in an AIA Architect story, wrote that the solid if unspectacular performance of the ABI in 2012 jived with the slghtly more optimistic predictions for 2013. But he also cited continued concerns over the federal budget and debt, including the looming threat of sequestration, as issues that potentially could undermine the forecast. The economic uncertainty may well cause clients to pull the plug on various projects around the country.

One takeaway, perhaps, is that in advance of the AIA's annual Grassroosts campaign in March, architects should be lobbying their representatives for a sensible solution to the budget crisis that does not indiscriminately slash agency budgets, thereby dampening construction spending.