ConstructConnect: March nonresidential starts surge 18%

Dive Brief:

  • The value of March nonresidential construction starts skyrocketed 17.8% from February, surging past the average February-to-March spring bump of 2.5% due largely to warmer weather, according to ConstructConnect.
  • All three major categories that ConstructConnect tracks showed gains, with institutional up 28.6% — almost recovering last month's losses of 33.2%. Both commercial (12.4%) and heavy engineering/civil (11%) showed gains, as did the smaller, volatile industrial category (94.5%).
  • Year-over-year, total starts for March 2017 remained in the negative at -5.9%, and year-to-date starts were also down 5.1%. Similar to last month, engineering was the only category to show year-over-year and year-to-date gains at 33.4% and 17.4%, respectively.

Dive Insight:

​Architecture and engineering jobs, which are leading indicators of future construction activity, saw a 3.3% year-over-year increase, which is 1% higher than the February 2016-February 2017 increase reported last month. Overall construction employment was up 2.6%. Total job gains in March, however, represented a significant downward departure from February with an increase of only 6,000. Even so, due to previous strong rises, job growth was 29% higher in the first quarter of 2017 versus the first quarter of 2016.

The 10 biggest project starts in March ranged from $300 million to $1.5 billion, with four either hitting or exceeding the $1 billion mark. The top five nonresidential projects by dollar value were the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center Expansion — New York City ($1.5 billion); the Waldorf Astoria Renovation — New York City ($1 billion); Stephens Village West mixed-use development — Nashville ($1 billion); Centene Clayton Campus — Centene, MO ($1 billion); and the Princeton Oaks Industrial Park — Orlando, FL ($550 million).

Dodge Data & Analytics reported a 0.9% bump in its Momentum Index for March, which predicts future construction activity. This marks the sixth-straight month of positive movement in the index, driven by the institutional sector. That category was up 3.7% from February and 23% year to date.

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Filed Under: Commercial Building Economy
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