February construction contracts advance one percent

At a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $512.8 billion, the value of new construction starts in February increased 1 percent compared to the previous month, according to the F.W.

Dodge Division of the McGraw-Hill Companies. Greater contracting was reported for nonresidential building and public works, outweighing a moderate decline for single family housing.

"The improved contracting in January and February gets 2002 off to a good start, and shows that construction remains at least for now one of the more resilient sectors of the economy," stated Robert A. Murray, vice president of economic affairs for F.W. Dodge.

Nonresidential building in February grew 5 percent to $169.8 billion. Following a depressed January, strong percentage gains were reported for hotels, up 61 percent; offices, up 32 percent; and warehouses, up 6 percent. Store construction, which experienced a more gradual downturn during 2001 compared to the other commercial categories, climbed 20 percent in February.

The institutional categories in February were mixed. School construction retreated 9 percent from an exceptional January; at the same time, February can be viewed as a healthy month for schools, with contracting still 2 percent above the average level during 2001. Healthcare facilities and transportation terminals were also down from heightened January amounts, with respective declines of 36 and 14 percent. On the plus side, February showed increases for public buildings (courthouses and detention facilities), up 29 percent; amusement?related projects, up 5 percent; and churches, up 4 percent.

Nonbuilding construction, at $109.2 billion, increased 12 percent in February. The nonbuilding total in February was lowered by a 45 percent decline for electric power plants, as this project type continues to see a sharply reduced volume of construction starts compared to 2001.

Residential building in February fell 6 percent to $233.8 billion. Single family housing was down 9 percent after a brisk January, although February's level remained 6 percent above the average monthly pace in 2001. The residential slippage in February was eased by a 16 percent pickup for multifamily housing.

Four of the five major regions showed reduced residential building in February - the South Atlantic, down 3 percent; the South Central, down 4 percent; the Midwest, down 15 percent; and the Northeast, down 18 percent. The West was the only region to post a residential increase in February, rising 5 percent.

600450 February construction contracts advance one percent glassonweb.com

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