The value of new construction starts in April fell 15% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $685.2 billion, pulling back following the 16% hike that was reported in March, according to Dodge Data & Analytics. Steep declines were registered by two of the three main construction sectors. Nonbuilding construction, which is comprised of public works and electric utilities/gas plants, plunged 31% from its elevated March amount which was lifted by the start of the $4.3 billion Calcasieu Pass liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal in Cameron LA.
Nonresidential building fell 18% in April after being boosted in March by groundbreaking for the $1.6 billion Toyota-Mazda automotive manufacturing facility in Huntsville AL, among other large projects. Nonresidential building in April did receive support from the start of the $1.3 billion new airport terminal project at Kansas City International Airport. Meanwhile, residential building in April decreased 1%, as a modest rebound for multifamily housing was outweighed by further slippage for single family housing.
During the first four months of 2019, total construction starts on an unadjusted basis were $224.5 billion, down 8% from the same period of 2018. On a twelve-month moving total basis, total construction starts for the twelve months ending April 2019 held steady with the corresponding amount for the twelve months ending April 2018.
April’s data lowered the Dodge Index to 145 (2000=100), down from 171 in March. Taking the average for March and April produces an Index reading of 158, which is above the 150 average for January and February, yet still below the 171 average for all of 2018.
“The construction start statistics can be volatile on a month-to-month basis, and that’s certainly been true in March and April, as a 16% jump was followed by a 15% decline,” said Robert Murray, chief economist for Dodge Data & Analytics, in the press release. “Much of the volatility can be attributed to the presence or absence of large projects – in March there were ten projects valued each at $500 million or more that reached groundbreaking, while April saw only two such projects.”