The value of new construction starts in January dropped 3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $522.1 billion, according to McGraw-Hill Construction, a division of the McGraw-Hill Companies. Residential building held steady with its strong December pace, while declines were reported for non-residential building and public works.
“The pattern in January was essentially a continuation of 2003 – a strong performance by housing, but also weaker activity for nonresidential building and public works,” said Robert Murray, vice president of economic affairs for McGraw Hill Construction. “As the current year proceeds, it’s expected that this pattern will begin to shift, with a mild slowdown for housing being balanced by some improvement for commercial building. At the same time, the publicly financed parts of the construction industry – institutional building and public works – will continue to be constrained by the difficult fiscal conditions facing the federal and state governments.”
Nonresidential building in January fell 2 percent to $139.1 billion. School construction, the largest nonresidential category by dollar volume was down 17 percent. On the commercial side, office building in January decreased 7 percent.
Nonbuilding construction dropped 16 percent in January, with a 23 percent drop in highway starts and a 49 percent decrease in bridge construction after a strong December.