- nonresidential construction had been increasing during most of the recession
- the stock of nonresidential buildings in place is already pretty low, thanks to the housing boom.
We can do without housing construction for a while, but not without nonresidential building UNLESS our economy is due to shrink.
The economy did shrink 1.6% in Q4, I have not yet done the work required to determine whether
- the low construction spending in January is just an adjustment to the Q4 reality, or
- it reflects even worse expectations about the future, or
- it reflects the onset of a credit crunch.