ConstructConnect: December nonresidential starts see unexpected 3% rise
- The value of December nonresidential construction starts rose by an unseasonal 3.4% to $24 billion, ignoring the typical November-to-December decline of 5% and recapturing a small piece of November's 22% dive, according to ConstructConnect.
- Month to month, the primary categories of commercial (9%) and heavy engineering (2.9%) contributed the most to the December uptick, with industrial restraining the month's starts from even more gains with a 9.2% decrease.
- Year over year, December 2016 starts stood at -5.6%, with three main categories of heavy engineering (-12%), institutional (-3.9%) and commercial (-1.7%) declining. The institutional sector was the only one to see a slight rise. There was better news on a year-to-date basis, though, as starts for the full year 2016 were up 6.8% from 2015, with institutional (11.5%) and commercial (10.6%) representing the biggest 2016 contributors.
ConstructConnect also reported that the period from December 2015 to December 2016 saw an architectural and engineering services jobs increase of 2%, finally pushing that sector past its February 2008 peak. U.S. construction jobs dipped slightly in December by 3,000 positions, although ConstructConnect termed it more of a "flattening," as the previous three months saw increases. The state of year-over-year jobs was a positive 1.5%, tying national job increases for the U.S. overall.
New York earned three spots on ConstructConnect's list of the 10 largest project starts in December, while the rest were geographically diverse. The top five projects in dollar value were the Camden Waterfront Mixed-Use Development — Camden, NJ ($1 billion); JFK Flight Center Hotel Development — Jamaica, NY ($265 million); Peabody Essex Museum Expansion — Salem, MA ($200 million); Grand Forks Regional Water Treatment Plant — Grand Forks, ND ($130 million); and the Atlantico at Palm Beach Gardens — Palm Beach Gardens, FL ($106 million).
The industry must wait another week to find out whether the strong December starts numbers in ConstructConnect's report will be echoed in the new Commerce Department construction spending data for the month. Earlier in January, the department reported that November spending hit the highest level since April 2006, demonstrating construction's strength at the end of 2016.
Follow Kim Slowey on Twitter