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In mid-July 2001, William D. Toal, chief economist for the Portland Cement Association, predicted that the buoyant construction industry would flatten but avoid recession despite more bad macroeconomic news.

But even the greatest heavyweight boxing champions of all time have taken a "standing eight count" on occasion. Toal indicated that the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States and the resulting uncertainty would drive construction activity and cement consumption down to the level of the rest of the U.S. economy in 2002. "A 5% decline in construction activity and cement consumption is a reasonable projection for 2002," Toal said.

Toal predicted a slowing of growth in construction activity to 1% in 2001, which was down from an earlier forecast of 1.7%. He also predicted his 2002 forecast downward to 1.8% compared with a previous forecast of 2.7%.

The article projects the construction forecast in terms of the residential, private nonresidential, public, and highway markets, and in terms of cement consumption.