Your behavior appears to be a little unusual. Please verify that you are not a bot.


Dodge: Construction starts fall in May 2021 as housing stumbles

By |  June 16, 2021
Headshot: Richard Branch

Branch

Total construction starts dropped 1 percent in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $902.8 billion, according to Dodge Data & Analytics.

The brunt of the decline was borne by residential starts, although the firm says nonresidential and nonbuilding starts continued their recovery from the pandemic.

“The weight of higher material prices and a lack of skilled labor are having a direct and notable influence on residential construction activity,” says Richard Branch, chief economist at Dodge. “These negative factors are expected to continue to impact the sector over the remainder of the year and will result in a less positive influence from housing on overall levels of construction activity.

“While feeling similar effects, the nonresidential sector continues its modest recovery off the lows of last summer,” Branch adds. “There are enough projects in the planning pipeline to suggest this trend should continue into next year, but higher material prices will result in longer lead times to groundbreaking and more temperate improvements in nonresidential starts.”

Nonbuilding starts

Dodge Data & Analytics logo 600x400

Nonbuilding construction starts rose 5 percent in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $199.2 billion.

The utility and gas plant category increased 22 percent due to the start of a large transmission line, while highway and bridge starts rose 9 percent and environmental public works moved 8 percent higher. The miscellaneous nonbuilding category lost 33 percent in May.

Through the first five months of 2021, Dodge says total nonbuilding starts were 8 percent higher than in 2020. Environmental public works were up 37 percent, while utility/gas plant and miscellaneous nonbuilding starts were up 25 percent and 11 percent, respectively. Highway and bridge starts were down 10 percent through five months.

For the 12 months ending May 2021, total nonbuilding starts were 5 percent lower than the 12 months ending May 2020. Environmental public works starts were 18 percent higher, while utility and gas plant starts were down 23 percent. Highway and bridge starts were down less than 1 percent, and miscellaneous nonbuilding starts were 14 percent lower through five months.

According to Dodge, the largest nonbuilding projects to break ground in May were the $915 million Gateway South transmission project in Medicine Bow, Wyoming, the $795 million improvements to the West Davis Highway in Farmington, Utah, and a $528 million sewage reclamation project in Salt Lake City.

Nonresidential starts

According to an AEM survey, 19 percent of equipment manufacturers said sales are up, while 36 percent indicated that sales are stable. Photo: iStock.com/Fertnig

Manufacturing starts dropped 43 percent in the 12 months ending May 2021, Dodge Data & Analytics reports. Photo: iStock.com/Fertnig

Nonresidential building starts, meanwhile, jumped 10 percent in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $309.5 billion.

Manufacturing starts more than doubled over the month as a large refinery broke ground. Commercial starts gained 6 percent, with only the office category losing ground. Institutional starts were down 2 percent in May despite a large increase in health care projects.

On the year, total nonresidential building starts were down 5 percent compared to the first five months of 2020. Institutional starts were 9 percent lower, while commercial starts were down 7 percent. Manufacturing starts were up 42 percent on a year-to-date basis.

For the 12 months ending May 2021, nonresidential building starts were 19 percent lower than the 12 months ending May 2020. Commercial starts were down 20 percent, while institutional starts fell 14 percent. Manufacturing starts dropped 43 percent in the 12 months ending May 2021.

The largest nonresidential building projects to break ground in May were the $1.5 billion Diamond Green Diesel refinery in Port Arthur, Texas, the $920 million Michigan Medicine Clinical Inpatient Tower in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and the $475 million University of California Living and Learning dorm project in San Diego.

Residential starts

Much of the strength in the market can be attributed to improvements in single-family residential spending, up more than 20 percent over the last three years. Photo: iStock.com/halbergman

Single-family starts were 12 percent lower in May, according to Dodge Data & Analytics. Photo: iStock.com/halbergman

Residential building starts lost 10 percent in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $394.2 billion.

Single-family starts were 12 percent lower, while multifamily starts dropped 7 percent.

On the year, total residential starts were 30 percent higher than the same period a year earlier. Single-family starts were up 37 percent while multifamily starts were 12 percent higher.

For the 12 months ending May 2021, total residential starts were 18 percent higher than the 12 months ending May 2020. Single-family starts gained 27 percent while multifamily starts were down 2 percent on a 12-month sum basis.

The largest multifamily structures to break ground in May were a $500 million mixed-use project in Brooklyn, New York, the $230 million Mather Senior Living Community in McLean, Virginia, and the $160 million Alcove Tower in Nashville, Tennessee.

Regionally, Dodge says May’s starts rose in the Midwest, South Atlantic, and West regions but fell in the Northeast and South Central regions.

Kevin Yanik

About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is the editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry magazine. Yanik can be reached at 216-706-3724 or kyanik@northcoastmedia.net.

Comments are closed