Things are looking up for the public sector, as long as you don’t expect too much too soon.

According to the National Association of State Budget Officers, general fund spending is projected to increase 2.9% this year. At the local level, Standard and Poor’s Ratings Services expects housing market gains to strengthen city and county credit quality.

And for the first time in three years, Public Works readers have increased their use of consultants. The biggest hint that public works departments are putting the Great Recession behind them is a significant increase in project planning (see chart).

Next page: An 8% uptick overall