March Construction Climbs 23 Percent
April 20, 2012

New construction starts in March jumped 23 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $482.4 billion, according to information from McGraw-Hill Construction, a division of The McGraw-Hill Cos. Public works construction and housing showed modest improvement in March, but nonresidential building lost further momentum. For the first three months of 2012, the amount of total construction starts on an unadjusted basis was reported at $94.2 billion, down 3 percent from a year ago. For the 12 months ending March 2012 versus the 12 months ending March 2011, total construction starts were basically unchanged.

Nonresidential building in March fell 4 percent to $122.8 billion (annual rate). The institutional building sector dropped 7 percent, due to weaker activity for a majority of its structure types. Healthcare facilities in March fell 30 percent, after showing some improvement during the first two months of 2012.

"Healthcare construction is being restrained in the near term, affected by the increased amount of hospital mergers that have taken place over the past year and the uncertain fate of healthcare reform legislation currently under review by the Supreme Court," says Robert A. Murray, vice president of economic affairs for McGraw-Hill Construction.

The amusement-related category dropped 21 percent in March, and church building construction also witnessed a 21 percent decline. Transportation terminal work in March slipped 9 percent, while the public buildings category was unchanged. On the plus side, the educational building category in March improved 10 percent, although March still came in 20 percent below this category's average monthly pace during 2011.

The latest month's data boosted the Dodge Index to 102 (2000=100), up from a revised 83 for February. The annual average for the Dodge Index during both 2010 and 2011 was 91.

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