BURBANK, CA-Construction volume in California will increase by an estimated 2.1% to $63.71 billion in 2003, according to a forecast by the Construction Industry Research Board, a nonprofit organization based here that tracks both private and public construction.

The CIRB expects private construction to rise by 3.6% next year, including increases in both residential and nonresidential building. The private sector will account for $47.58 billion of next year’s $63.71 billion, and nonresidential building will account for about $14.64 billion of the total. The nonresidential construction figure will represent a 25.3% drop from the year 2000 peak of $19.60 billion.

Ben Bartolotto, director of the 28-year old research board, notes that 2003 will continue a trend reflected in the first 10 months of this year, in which California’s construction volume is up 0.8% from the corresponding period last year. During that 10 months, the private portion of that total was up 0.9% from the same period last year while public construction, mainly heavy civil works projects, was up 0.6%.

Bartolotto attributes the expected increase in construction next year to continued low interest rates, growth in international trade, increased defense spending along with recently approved bond issues for schools and public colleges and universities, and water projects.

Although government cutbacks in connection with California’s budget problems could reduce public works construction in 2003, Bartolotto says, the CIRB expects gains in private building to offset the small declines in the public works spending.

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