New construction starts dropped 2 percent in December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $532.6 billion, according to McGraw-Hill Construction, a division of the McGraw-Hill Cos. For 2003 as a whole, total construction grew 3 percent to $518.6 billion.
“The overall level of construction activity was quite healthy during 2003, thanks to the robust volume of single-family housing” said Robert Murray, McGraw-Hill Construction’s vice president of economic affairs. “[But] it was a difficult picture for construction’s other sectors. The tough fiscal climate in 2003 dampened institutional building, and caused public works to lose momentum after four straight years of expansion.”
Nonresidential building dropped 3 percent in December, and 3 percent as a whole for 2003, a less severe drop than the 9 percent decrease of 2002.
Nonbuilding construction declined 9 percent, along with a 9 percent decrease for 2003 as a whole.