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Depressed Construction of U.S. Religious Buildings - 11/13/15

Construction has been one of the stronger aspects of the economy recently, including in the form of apartment, office and retail construction.  But the construction of U.S. religious buildings has been depressed for years.  This category of construction includes churches, temples, synagogues, mosques and other religious structures. 

According to construction data firm Dodge Data and Analytics, construction in this category peaked at nearly fifty two million square feet of new space in two thousand and two.  It then began a steady decline long before the onset of the most recent recently.  Dodge estimates that religious construction will fall to a bit more than nine million square feet this year, down about eighty two percent from two thousand and two and the lowest level since records began to be kept in nineteen sixty seven. 

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, a confluence of forces is responsible, including declining formal religious participation and shifting donation habits.  But there are indications that religious construction may be bottoming out.  Last year, spending on religious construction fell more than nine percent, but it’s up by more than two percent so far this year.

Anirban Basu, Chariman Chief Executive Officer of Sage Policy Group (SPG), is one of the Mid-Atlantic region's leading economic consultants. Prior to founding SPG he was Chairman and CEO of Optimal Solutions Group, a company he co-founded and which continues to operate. Anirban has also served as Director of Applied Economics and Senior Economist for RESI, where he used his extensive knowledge of the Mid-Atlantic region to support numerous clients in their strategic decision-making processes. Clients have included the Maryland Department of Transportation, St. Paul Companies, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Players Committee and the Martin O'Malley mayoral campaign.