The worldwide construction industry, valued at $3.41 trillion, has grown 5.8 percent since 1998, according to research by Engineering News-Record (ENR). The $190- billion increase is attributed to the continued strength of the U.S., which accounted for over 80 percent of the growth.

"Despite all the economic trials and tribulations experienced around the world, the world market has grown," explains Gary Tulacz, ENR's senior editor. "Most regional markets gained only slightly as Asia and Latin America struggled to recover from their respective financial crisis," he says. The data reflect spending and investment in construction on a country-by-country basis for each year from 1998 to 2000. The research also ranks the countries, and the 2000 survey saw a return of the top eight in the same order.

The U.S. and Canada combine to offer the most robust markets at $884 billion. Asia is the largest regional market, with a valuation of $1.113 trillion. Tulacz considers Europe "steady," Latin America as "struggling to recover" from its financial crisis, and the Middle East and Africa remaining "flat."

The U.S.'s expenditure of $819 billion is $200 billion more than Japan's, which ranks number two on the list. The fourth through tenth biggest spenders aggregate to less than the U.S. alone. The dominance of the U.S. market mirrors the continued health of the economy overall.

Canada's steady increase put its 2000 spending at $65.2 billion, up from $59.7 billion in 1998. But even with the growth, Canada fell from tenth to eleventh in worldwide construction spending.