Year-to-Date

For the first two months of 2015, total construction starts on an unadjusted basis were up 34 percent from the same period a year ago. If projects in excess of $1 billion are excluded, the result would be more moderate gains for total construction – up 10 percent in February on a seasonally adjusted basis relative to January, and up 8 percent on an unadjusted basis during the first two months of 2015 relative to the same period a year ago.

The 34 percent increase for total construction starts on an unadjusted basis during 2015, relative to 2014, was the result of greater activity for all three major construction sectors. Nonbuilding construction year-to-date soared 89 percent, with electric utilities and gas plants up 944 percent while public works retreated 7 percent. Nonresidential building year-to-date increased 22 percent, with manufacturing buildings and institutional buildings each up 26 percent while commercial buildings climbed 15 percent. Residential building year-to-date improved 7 percent, with single family housing up 7 percent and multifamily housing up 9 percent.

By geography, total construction starts for the January-February period of 2015 revealed this behavior compared to last year – the South Central, up 126 percent; the Northeast, up 12 percent; the South Atlantic, up 9 percent; the West, up 3 percent; and the Midwest, down 5 percent.

Through the first two months of 2015, the top five metropolitan areas ranked by the dollar volume of multifamily starts were as follows – New York, Boston, Miami, Washington, D.C., and Houston.

Added perspective is obtained by looking at 12-month moving totals, in this case the 12 months ending February 2015 versus the 12 months ending February 2014, which lessens the volatility inherent in comparisons of just two months.

On this basis, total construction starts advanced 11 percent, as the result of the following performance by major sector – nonresidential building, up 24 percent; residential building, up 9 percent; and nonbuilding construction, up 1 percent. By geography, the 12 months ending February 2015 showed this pattern for total construction starts – the South Central, up 27 percent; the South Atlantic, up 13 percent; the West, up 8 percent; the Northeast, up 3 percent; and the Midwest, up 1 percent.

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