The latest Portland Cement Association (PCA) forecast of cement, concrete and construction predicts a 6-percent decline in cement consumption in 2009. PCA said an increasing unemployment rate, higher inflation and low consumer sentiment will combine to have lingering negative effects on the U.S. economy, and hence on cement consumption and the construction industry.
Edward Sullivan, PCA chief economist, said real construction activity is expected to decline 9 percent in 2008 and another 7 percent in 2009. In the first five months of 2008, there was a 29-percent decline in non-residential contract awards. "If these trends hold true, a similar intensity will materialize in 2009," Sullivan said.
According to PCA, the majority of cement consumption occurs in the residential and public sectors, each facing unique challenges. High inventories will suppress housing starts and residential cement consumption until 2010. PCA predicts a recovery to begin in 2010, but it will be more modest than previously forecasted.