The latest forecasts to emerge in the current round all see the future prospects for construction as far gloomier than was expected when the number crunchers examined the figures three months or so ago.

Experian now expects a 12% decline this year compared with an 8% fall and Hewes has shaded its forecast down to -16.4% from -13.7%.

These follow the downgrading made by the Construction Products Association in its forecast.

Construction forecasts summer 2009.gif

But, as the graph makes plain, the decline in workload this year is looking exceptionally steep and set to break any number of records on the gloomometer.

The main factors behind the downward revisions are a much worse expectation for private commercial new build and a much worse expectation for private sector housing repair and maintenance.

These are big sectors within the overall mix and the sharp collapse of these together with the carnage in the new house building sector means that a steep decline in overall construction activity is pretty much unavoidable.

But having accepted what now looks like unavoidable pain, what next?

That is the real question taxing the forecasters.

What shape will the recovery take? And, most importantly, when will the public spending tap be turned off by the Government and what will be the impact be on construction?

Talk privately, as I do, to various industry number crunchers and I have to say the majority are pretty downbeat.

The real threat concerning some of the more downbeat is that the private sector will have little or no momentum by the time the money begins to drain from the public sector funded construction work.

Whatever the various views are on the possibility of that happening, the possibility of a further collapse in overall construction workload in 2011 is certainly a hot topic of conversation.