Screen Shot 2020 03 17 At 2 47 55 Pm

Construction Starts Dip in February

March 17, 2020
PANDEMIC EFFECT: Dodge Data reports that last month's pullback in new residential and nonbuilding projects was still offset by a gain in nonresidential building work.

HAMILTON, NJ --()-- Total US construction starts lost 1% from January to February, dropping to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $767.5 billion, according to the latest monthly report from Dodge Data & Analytics. Large projects in the office and healthcare sectors provided a boost for overall nonresidential building, while residential and nonbuilding construction starts moved lower.

With only two months of data available for 2020, it is difficult to ascribe a 2020 trend. However, some perspective can be gleaned by examining a 12-month moving total. For the twelve months ending February 2020 total construction starts were 3% higher than the previous twelve-month period. By major category, nonresidential building starts were 3% higher, while residential starts were up 1%, with nonbuilding starts increasing 7%.

In February, the Dodge Index moved lower to 162 (2000=100) compared to the 165 posted in January.

“The good news is that heading into the coronavirus pandemic, construction starts were stable. The economy was healthy fueled by continued steady job growth,” stated Richard Branch, Dodge Data's Chief Economist. “Of course, the pandemic’s effect on future starts is as yet unknown. Construction firms will need to deal with multiple issues including supply chain disruptions, workforce constrictions due to the outbreak, and an economy that has moved from a pace near its long-term potential to a virtual stall within the space of a week. Over the next few months, many construction projects could see delays in start or longer times to completion based on shortages of supplies from China or a reduction in available labor due to spread of the virus. Still others may begin to see projects cancelled outright due to a sudden circumstantial change in demand. Planning data as reported to Dodge Data & Analytics will be watched closely to see if fissures are developing in the construction sector.”

Nonbuilding construction starts moved 9% lower from January to February, dropping to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $148.8 billion. The drop in February was the result of a 17% decline in the highway and bridges and a 22% drop in the utility/gas plant category. However, gains were seen in the miscellaneous nonbuilding category and environmental public works, which rose 14% and 1% respectively.

The largest nonbuilding construction project to break ground in February was the $531-million Juno Solar Project in Borden County TX. Also starting in February was the $500 million Big Raymond Wind Farm, which is spread over Hidalgo, Willacy, and Cameron Counties in Texas as well as the $406-million Pryor Mountain Wind Farm in Bridger MT.

For the twelve months ending February 2020, total nonbuilding starts were 7% higher than the twelve months ending February 2019. Starts in the utility/gas plant category were up 92% and environmental public works starts rose 3%. However, street and bridge starts were 8% lower and miscellaneous nonbuilding was down 14% for the 12 months ending in February.

Nonresidential building gained 7% in the month of February to $285.9 billion on the back of several large projects getting underway in the office and healthcare sectors. February’s commercial construction starts rose 7%, while institutional starts moved 13% higher. Manufacturing starts by contrast fell 27% in response to several large projects that broke ground in January.

The largest nonresidential building project to break ground in February was the $1.3-billion Two Manhattan West Office Building in New York NY. Also breaking ground during the month was the $800-million New Valley Hospital in Paramus NJ and the $760-million Disney/ABC Headquarters complex in NYC.

On a 12-month basis, nonresidential building starts were 3% higher in the most recent twelve months than during the twelve months ending in February 2019. Commercial starts were up 7% in the past twelve months, while institutional starts were less than one percent lower. Manufacturing starts were down 2%.

Residential building starts moved 4% lower in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $332.8 billion. During the month, single family starts dropped 7%, while multifamily starts increased 3%.

The largest multifamily structures to break ground in February were the $150-million Cambridge Crossing in Cambridge MA and the $150-million 44 East Condo Tower in Austin TX. The $140-million Armature Works mixed-use project in Washington DC was also one of the largest residential projects to break ground during the month.

For the 12 months ending in February, total residential starts were 1% higher than in the twelve months ending in February 2019. Single family starts were up 3%, while multifamily building starts were 2% lower.

About Dodge Data & Analytics

Dodge Data & Analytics is North America’s leading provider of analytics and software-based workflow integration solutions for the construction industry. Building product manufacturers, architects, engineers, contractors, and service providers leverage Dodge to identify and pursue unseen growth opportunities and execute on those opportunities for enhanced business performance. Whether it’s on a local, regional or national level, Dodge makes the hidden obvious, empowering its clients to better understand their markets, uncover key relationships, size growth opportunities, and pursue those opportunities with success. The company’s construction project information is the most comprehensive and verified in the industry. Dodge is leveraging its 100-year-old legacy of continuous innovation to help the industry meet the building challenges of the future. To learn more, visit

For more, contact Nicole Sullivan | AFFECT Public Relations & Social Media | +1-212-398-9680, [email protected]