April Starts Fall 15%

News & Events

April Starts Fall 15%

New construction starts in April fell 15% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $685.2 billion, according to Dodge Data & Analytics. The manufacturing plant category fell 72% in April after soaring 90% in March that included the $1.6 billion Toyota-Mazda automotive manufacturing plant in Alabama. By contrast, the largest manufacturing plant project that reached groundbreaking in April was a $250 million paper mill in Green Bay WI. The institutional side of nonresidential building decreased 9% in April, which reflected a mixed pattern by project type. The amusement-related category fell 50% after being boosted in March by the $850 million renovation of the KeyArena in Seattle WA. Healthcare facilities fell 29% in April following growth during the previous two months, while the public buildings category (courthouses and detention facilities) dropped 22%. On the plus side, the transportation terminal category soared 159% in April, lifted by the $972 million terminal building portion of the $1.3 billion new airport terminal project at Kansas City International Airport. Educational facilities grew 6% in April, registering improvement for the second month in a row after a lackluster performance in January and February. Large high school projects that reached groundbreaking in April were located in Fall River MA ($215 million), Upper Arlington OH ($140 million), and Santa Monica CA ($98 million). The top five states for K-12 school construction starts in April, ranked by dollar volume, were – Texas, Ohio, California, Washington, and Massachusetts. The 8% downturn for total construction starts on an unadjusted basis during the January-April period of 2019 was the result of lower activity for each of the three main construction sectors. Nonresidential building decreased 3% year-to-date, with respective declines of 4% and 37% for institutional building and manufacturing building, while commercial building was able to post a 5% gain. Nonbuilding construction dropped 10% year-to-date, as a 21% retreat for public works was partially offset by a 94% jump for electric utilities/gas plants. Residential building fell 12% year-to-date, with single family housing down 8% and multifamily housing down 20%. By major region, total construction starts for the first four months of 2019 revealed this pattern compared to last year – the Midwest, down 17%; the South Atlantic, down 11%; the West, down 9%; the Northeast, down 7%; and the South Central, up 1%