The 23 percent gain for total construction starts in the first half of 2015 came from a varied pattern by geography. The strongest year-to-date gain was reported in the South Central region, up 57 percent, which reflected the boost coming from the massive gas terminal projects that were entered as construction starts plus several large petrochemical plants.
For the first six months of 2015, nonbuilding construction jumped 62 percent compared to the same period a year ago.
The public works categories as a group were up 14 percent in the first half of 2015, helped by a strong showing for highway and bridge construction that advanced 30 percent relative to a sluggish first half of 2014.
The top five states ranked by the dollar amount of highway and bridge construction starts during the first half of 2015 were the following – Florida (reflecting the start of a $2.3 billion upgrade to Interstate 4), California, Texas, New York and Illinois. The environmental public works categories showed a varied performance during the first half of 2015, with sewer construction up 19 percent, water supply construction up 6 percent, and river/harbor development down 2 percent. The miscellaneous public works category decreased 15 percent from its first half 2014 pace, which featured the start of several large mass transit projects.
At the six-month mark of 2015, nonresidential building increased 4 percent compared to a year ago. The commercial building group held steady with its year ago pace, aided by a substantial 41 percent increase for hotel construction but dampened by declines for stores, down 3 percent; office buildings, down 8 percent; and warehouses, down 12 percent.
For the first six months of 2015, residential building in dollar terms was up 17 percent from the same period a year ago, showing some improvement from the 10 percent annual gain reported for 2014. Multifamily housing registered a year-to-date increase of 29 percent, maintaining the upward movement that’s been present over the past five years.
Single-family housing year-to-date was up 13 percent, reflecting both the comparison to the lackluster volume in the first half of 2014 and the slight yet uneven improvement that emerged in the second half of 2014 and has carried over into 2015.