October Construction Advances 5 Percent

November 22nd, 2013 by DWM Magazine

The value of new construction starts increased 5 percent in October to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $585.6 billion, according to McGraw Hill Construction, a division of McGraw Hill Financial.

The gain followed a 13-percent jump for total construction starts in September, and during both September and October much of the upward push came from groundbreaking for several very large projects, according to the report. By sector, nonresidential building surged in October, aided by the start of three massive manufacturing plants, and residential building resumed its upward track after a September pause.

The October data lifted the Dodge Index to 124 (2000=100), compared to 118 in September and the highest reading for the Index so far in 2013. During the first eight months of 2013, the Index had stayed within the fairly narrow range of 99 to 107, but the most recent two months have seen the Index climb substantially, according to the report.

“The levels of activity in September and October reflected the impact of several large and unusual projects, so a slower pace can be expected going forward in the near term,” says Robert A. Murray, chief economist for McGraw Hill Construction. “At the same time, October’s data did include positive signs that the underlying upward trend for construction is likely to continue, even amidst the greater uncertainty caused by the 16-day government shutdown last month. For nonresidential building, more manufacturing-related projects are reaching groundbreaking, the commercial structure types are moving upward albeit unevenly, and the educational building category is providing more evidence that it’s stabilizing after a lengthy decline. Residential building in October showed its resilience with a modest gain after losing momentum in September.”

Residential building, at $209.5 billion (annual rate), increased 3 percent in October. Single-family housing grew 2 percent, rebounding after slipping 2 percent in September. The dollar amount for single-family housing in October was up 12 percent from the start of the year, as this category returned to the gradual yet steady upward trend that’s been present for most of 2013. By geography, single-family housing in October was led by gains in the Northeast (up 8 percent) and the West (up 5 percent) while activity was basically flat in the South Atlantic and the

South Central, and activity in the Midwest was down 2 percent. Multifamily housing in October climbed 6 percent.

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