August construction in U.S. starts jump 21 percent
The August rise for total construction starts featured an especially elevated amount for nonresidential building, which was helped by the start of a $3 billion petrochemical plant in Louisiana, the $1.7 billion Wynn Casino in the Boston MA area, and a $508 million terminal upgrade at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
The nonbuilding construction sector also experienced strong growth, with its public works segment lifted by the start of a $3 billion natural gas pipeline project in the states of Alabama, Georgia, and Florida.
In addition, residential building contributed with a moderate August gain, reflecting another advance for multifamily housing which included groundbreaking for the $900 million Wanda Vista Tower in Chicago, Ill.
Through the first eight months of 2016, total construction starts on an unadjusted basis were $439.3 billion, down 7% from a year ago.
As 2016 is proceeding, the year-to-date decline for total construction is becoming smaller, affected to a lesser extent by the comparison to the massive projects reported during the first half of 2015 and now benefitting from the start of several massive projects in this year's second half.
If projects valued at $1 billion or more are excluded, total construction starts during the first eight months of 2016 would be down a slight 1%, or essentially even, with a year ago.
The August data raised the Dodge Index to 150 (2000=100), up from 124 in July. The quarterly averages for the Dodge Index show that construction activity increased 11% in this year's first quarter to 146, followed by a 10% decline in the second quarter to 131.
The July and August average for the Dodge Index comes to 137, a 4% gain relative to the second quarter. ■