U.S. Shipments of plumbing products are forecast to rise nearly 3 percent per year through 2004 to $9.2 billion. Advances will be strongest in repair and improvement markets, both for residential and nonresidential construction. These gains will help cushion the effects of a deceleration in new building construction.

Also offsetting the slowdown will be more intensive use of plumbing fixtures and fittings in new housing. Products with better growth prospects include whirlpool bathtubs and shower systems. Continuing growth in imports, especially from Latin America and the Asia/Pacific region, will provide competition for domestic production.

Plumbing fixture shipments are expected to approach $4.5 billion in 2004 on annual increases of 3.5 percent. Plumbing fittings shipments are projected to increase 2.4 percent per annum through 2004 to $4.7 billion.