The economy may be looking browbeaten these days, but at least one sector is still thriving: the lobbying industry. According to this week’s report by The Hill, last year, the 25 biggest lobbyist firms reported across-the-board increases in revenue–a 9% jump. Topping the charts was Patton Boggs, which broke new earnings records at $42.7 million.

“2006 was the worst time,” Van Scoyoc and Cassidy CEO Gregg Hartley explained to Roll Call yesterday: “With so much controversy, a lot of people were backing off the playing field.” Yet now, says Hartley, the new lobbyist rules are clear. “This has been a good year, and we would anticipate that appropriations will always be a good, strong, healthy part of our business,” he says.

(So far not for everyone, though. In a rather embarrassing move for the lobbying industry–which likes to preserve the delicate appearance of not wielding direct influence over Congress–the National Association of Home Builders recently announced it was freezing its PAC contributions to lawmakers until they came to the aid of the housing sector.)