Dodge Data: Dec. construction starts up 4% with boost from residential sector

Dive Brief:

  • December’s monthly construction starts, positive in all categories, rebounded 4% from November’s 5% decline to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $591.6 billion, bringing construction activity back to an October 2015 level, Dodge Data & Analytics reported. For the full year 2015, construction starts rose 8% to $645.5 billion, continuing a three-year trend of moderate expansion.
  • The residential category was the month-to-month winner in December with an increase of 6% to a $278.1 billion annual rate, while the nonbuilding category rose 3% to $135 billion due to a 108% rise in the electric utility and gas plant sub-category. Nonresidential grew 3% between November and December to an annualized rate of $178.5 billion.
  • For the full year 2015, residential was up 14% to $265.4 billion, beating 2014’s increase by 4%, and nonbuilding rose an impressive 23% to $176 billion, bouncing back from last year’s 8% decline. By contrast, nonresidential fell 8% to $204.2 billion, giving back some of the 2014 increase of 24% but still 14% higher than 2013.

Dive Insight:

Robert Murray, chief economist for Dodge Data & Analytics, said 2015 was a year of ups and downs for construction starts with a strong first half, including growth on several fronts, such as in the commercial and institutional segments of nonresidential; in single family and multifamily; and in energy projects. However, in the third quarter, most of these categories saw sharp declines due to corrections to high first-half numbers or reduced activity.

"The construction start statistics reveal continued expansion for construction activity during 2015, although the path over the course of the year was not smooth," Murray said in a release.

In nonresidential building, office construction grew 6% for December, store construction grew 17% and the garage and service station category skyrocketed 50%, thanks in part to the start of a $331 million consolidated car rental facility in Kahului, HI. 

In residential, multifamily rebounded in December, up 22%, but single-family was flat. Multifamily saw 10 multifamily projects valued at $100 million or more and in nonbuilding, energy projects were the standout while public works (-8%), highway and bridge (-7%) and miscellaneous public works (-29%) were all down.

For the full year 2015, all five U.S. regions were positive, with the Northeast (17%) scoring the biggest gains, followed by South Central (16%), South Atlantic (4%), Midwest (3%) and West (2%).

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