Dodge Data: February construction starts rise 2% on strong public works sector
- The value of construction starts in February rose 2% from an upward-revised January figure to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $706.4 billion, the second-consecutive increase after four straight months of declines, according to Dodge Data & Analytics.
- Overall starts got a bump last month from the nonbuilding category of public works, which saw a $1.4 billion natural gas pipeline get underway, as well as strong road, bridge and power-plant construction. Nonresidential saw a 9% February decline after a jump in January, and residential fell 3% on a 23% decline in multifamily starts.
- The overall uptick in February starts pushed the Dodge Index to 149, two points up from January's revised reading of 147, which is proof, according to Dodge Chief Economist Robert Murray, that construction starts in 2017 are trending up.
The institutional segment of nonbuilding got a reality check last month with a 9% drop after seeing a 42% January spike, an increase driven by a 768% surge in transportation terminal starts. Nonbuilding still got a February boost, however, from the start of projects like $283 million of infrastructure improvements at Orlando International Airport and $457 million in Georgia highway work.
Additionally, although nonresidential sank almost 10%, that category received some help from the start of projects like the Golden State Warriors' Chase Center project in San Francisco and a $218 million New York University expansion. Office construction experienced a significant fall of 40%, although Dodge noted that January's office starts figures included some unusually large projects.
Year-to-date starts were down 4%, but without the "volatile" manufacturing plant and electric utility/gas categories, January and February starts would have been 7% higher than January and February of last year, according to Dodge.
The Dodge Momentum Index was up slightly — 1.6% — in February, again, thanks to the institutional sector. Last month's reading was up 22% year over year, with increases in commercial planning (+28%) and institutional (+15%) signaling spending growth in 2017.
- Dodge Data & Analytics February Construction Starts Advance 2 Percent
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