Construction picks up momentum

News McGraw-Hill Construction March 12, 2003
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The value of new construction starts in January increased 2% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $504


The value of new construction starts in January increased 2% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $504.4 billion, according to McGraw-Hill Construction Dodge, a division of The McGraw-Hill Cos. Modest gains relative to December were shown by each of the construction industry's main sector--nonresidential building, residential building and nonbuilding construction.

January's data produced a 152 reading for the Dodge Index, up from a revised 149 for December. For 2002 as a whole, the Dodge Index averaged 150.

"Over the past year, the construction industry leveled off after a decade-long expansion, and January shows total construction essentially maintaining its 2002 pace," said Robert Murray, vice president of economic affairs for McGraw-Hill Construction Dodge.

Nonbuilding construction in January increased 3% to $91.7 billion. On the plus side, highway and bridge construction grew 21%, boosted by the start of several large highway projects in Florida, Texas and Pennsylvania.

"Highway construction in 2003 may fare better than what was thought possible only a few months ago," said Murray. "In February, Congress approved funding for the federal-aid highway program that was down just 1% from the 2002 fiscal year, versus the 10% to 15% cuts that had been considered earlier."


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