- The Dodge Momentum Index inched up 0.9% in March to 144.4 from a downward-revised February reading of 143.2, marking the sixth-straight month of index gains, according to Dodge Data & Analytics.
- The institutional sector (+3.7%) once again drove the month-to-month increase of nonresidential projects in the planning stages, compensating for a slight retraction in the commercial category (-1.2%).
- Year to date, institutional is up 23% since the end of 2016, while commercial is down 2.9%. Year over year, the Momentum Index, a leading indicator of future construction activity, is up significantly from its March 2016 reading of 117.4.
The number of commercial and institutional projects entering the planning stages and valued at more than $100 million doubled in March. These included the $200 million Universal Orlando Resort in Orlando; a $150 million office building in Clayton, MO; and a $500 million medical complex in Chicago.
Dodge reported that despite month-over-month unpredictability, a broader look at the Index and its performance in the last year pointed to increased construction activity in the future.
Dodge's most recent construction starts, however, found that the nonresidential segment decreased by 10% in February, despite work starting on major projects like the Golden State Warriors' Chase Center project in San Francisco and a New York University expansion value at almost $220 million. The robust office segment even took a major tumble of 40% in February, although Dodge chalked that up to an unusually high volume of office starts the previous month.
While Dodge identified the institutional category as driving starts momentum, the analysis of February activity from ConstructConnect tagged institutional as one of the main drags on new starts, leading to a 1.7% decline for the month.
The continuing demand for office space in major cities drove an office-construction surge of 106.4% in February, though, with New York City chipping in one of the biggest projects — the $3 billion One Vanderbilt project. As of February, according to ConstructConnect, that segment grew 94.3% year over year and 57.4% year to date.