February construction starts advance two percent

Dodge Data & Analytics reports public works and electric utilities strengthen after a subdued January.

At a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $706.4 billion, new construction starts in February rose 2% from the previous month, according to Dodge Data & Analytics. This was the second straight monthly increase, following a 15 percent hike in January, as construction starts regained the upward track following four consecutive monthly declines to close out 2016.

Much of February’s advance came from a strong performance by the public works sector, led by the start of a $1.4 billion natural gas pipeline in Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania, plus an improved level of highway and bridge construction.

The electric utility/gas plant category also strengthened with the start of two large power plants and a major transmission line project.

At the same time, nonresidential building made a partial retreat after its strong January performance, yet still remained slightly above its average monthly pace during 2016.

Residential building in February also settled back, due to a slide for multifamily housing.

During the first two months of 2017, total construction starts on an unadjusted basis were $98.5 billion, down 4 percent from the same period a year ago, which included elevated amounts for the often volatile manufacturing plant and electric utility/gas plant categories.

Excluding manufacturing plants and electric utilities/gas plants, total construction starts during this year’s January-February period would be up 7 percent compared to last year. 

Source: Dodge Data & Analytics.

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