Construction Starts Fell 9% in August But Remain Up for YTD 2018

New York, NY, October 2, 2018-The value of new construction starts in August decreased 9% from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $741.9 billion, according to Dodge Data & Analytics. 

The August downturn for total construction starts matched the 9% decline reported for July, as activity in the latest two months pulled back after the sharp increases in May (up 14%) and June (up 10%).

By major sector, weaker activity was reported in August for nonresidential building, down 19%; and residential building, down 7%. On the plus side, nonbuilding construction in August advanced 6%, reflecting a steady performance by public works as well as improvement for electric utilities following depressed activity earlier this year. 

During the first eight months of 2018, total construction starts on an unadjusted basis were $540.0 billion, up 1% from a year ago. The year-to-date performance for total construction was restrained by a 45% drop for the electric utility/gas plant category. If the electric utility/gas plant category is excluded, total construction starts in this year’s first eight months would be up 4% compared to the same period of 2017.

The August data produced a reading of 157 for the Dodge Index (2000=100), down from 173 in July. During the previous seven months the Dodge Index averaged 170, with this year’s high of 190 reached in June while the low of 152 took place in April.