editorial

May Construction Starts Increase 3 Percent

At a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $729.7 billion, new construction starts in May climbed 3 percent compared to April’s already elevated pace, according to Dodge Data & Analytics. The nonbuilding construction sector provided much of the lift, given an exceptionally strong amount reported for the electric power and gas plant category, which reflected a massive liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal project in Texas being entered as a May start.

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Nonbuilding Construction

Nonbuilding construction in May jumped 59 percent to $262.7 billion (annual rate). The electric power and gas plant category led the way, soaring 229 percent, which was due in large measure to the massive $9 billion LNG export terminal in Corpus Christi, Texas, being included as a May start.

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Nonresidential Building

Nonresidential building in May fell 28 percent to $208.1 billion (annual rate), pulling back after surging 58 percent in April. The manufacturing building category in April had provided a sizeable boost, rising 513 percent as the result of an $8.1 billion petrochemical plant in Louisiana being entered as a construction start.

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Residential Building

Residential building, at $258.9 billion (annual rate), edged up 2 percent in May. Multifamily housing improved 7 percent, regaining upward momentum after settling back during the previous two months. May featured the start of eight multifamily projects valued each in excess of $100 million, with the largest being a $392 million project located in Long Island City, N.Y.

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Year-to-Date

During the first five months of 2015, total construction starts on an unadjusted basis were reported at $272.5 billion, up 25 percent from the same period a year ago. The current year has included the start of 12 massive projects valued each at $1 billion or greater, compared to five such projects during the corresponding period of 2014. If these projects valued at $1 billion or greater are excluded, total construction starts on an unadjusted basis would be up a more moderate 10 percent year-to-date.

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