Prospects for a construction industry recovery this year remain dim, say U.S. builders. The project pool is thinning, while construction costs are heading higher. "By now, the cupboard is bare for many firms," said Ken Simonson, chief economist of the Associated General Contractors. "They see very little on the horizon. The economic recovery has been less robust in the first few months of the year than some people expected -- and has noticeably slowed down in the last couple of months."