While the U.S. Open tennis tournament slams and slices its way to this weekendâ€™s championship games (is anyone out there not picking Justine Henin and Roger Federer to win the singlesâ€™ championships?) tennis watchers are faced with â€œdeuceâ€ points, when opponents are tied, and â€œadvantageâ€ points when one player is one point a way from winning a game. Deuce is okay â€“ you havenâ€™t lost yet â€“ but â€œadvantageâ€ is where you want to be, in control and on the verge of a win. In the current economy â€“ in fact in most economic situations -- thereâ€™s no question itâ€™s advantage: pavement maintenance, and hereâ€™s why. Recent Commerce Department construction figures reported by Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) announced that â€œOver the past year, total construction spending fell 2% dragged down by the continuing decline in the housing market. Despite the 13.9% increase in nonresidential construction, the 15.6% decline in residential construction resulted in a largely unchanged level in overall construction spending over the past several months.â€ So even though overall construction has declined, nonresidential construction has increased almost 14%. In fact, the only nonresidential segments that did not experience an increase in the last year were the highway and street segments. This certainly isnâ€™t the best news for paving contractors who rely on residential, street, or highway construction for their paving work, but pavers who rely on other nonresidential work to drive their business have seen an increase in construction; that work is out there, and thatâ€™s what weâ€™ve been hearing from contractors all year. But for the rest of the pavement maintenance contractors â€“ those who sealcoat, stripe, patch, repair, and even sweep â€“ what do those construction figures mean? Not a whole lot. Why? Because pavement maintenance has little to do with new construction, whether itâ€™s residential or nonresidential. Maintenance is done on existing pavement to make it last longer, look better, and stay cleaner, and no matter how you slice it contractors who offer pavement maintenance services â€“ especially a mix of pavement maintenance services â€“ are in control, having positioned themselves to survive and even thrive no matter what the economic situation is. So itâ€™s advantage: Pavement maintenance. Maybe Henin and Federer can make the same claims this weekend, but Iâ€™m crossing my fingers for Carlos Moyaâ€¦heâ€™s â€œthe old guyâ€ at 31. If you want to read the complete one-page ABC report and analysis, including the segment-by-segment breakdown, visit www.ABC.org and click on the Construction Economic Update.