Manufacturing propels construction starts forward

By |  September 20, 2023

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Total construction starts rose 6 percent in August to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1.3 trillion, Dodge Construction Network reports.

Nonresidential starts rose 40 percent thanks to a large pickup in manufacturing and transportation buildings, Dodge says. Residential and nonbuilding starts fell 1 percent and 14 percent, respectively.

Through eight months of 2023, total construction starts are 5 percent below where they were at the same point in 2022. Residential and nonresidential starts are respectively down 18 percent and 9 percent through eight months of the year. Nonbuiding starts, however, are up 22 percent on the year.

“Despite the August gain, the construction sector is running uphill,” says Richard Branch, chief economist at Dodge Construction Network. “Fear of an imminent recession seems to have abated, which should provide a boost of confidence to the sector. However, higher interest rates, labor shortages and significantly tighter lending standards will weigh down starts in the final quarter of the year. This will persist for the foreseeable future, lasting until interest rates start to move lower.”


The 14 percent decline in nonbuilding construction starts follows a strong July that included the start of a $12 billion LNG project.

Nonbuilding starts increased 12 percent in August when excluding Dodge’s utility/gas plant category, which fell 45 percent during August. Miscellaneous nonbuilding starts shot 39 percent higher, and highway and bridge starts gained 19

Still, environmental public works starts shed 1 percent.

Through eight months of the year, utility/gas plant starts are up 40 percent. Miscellaneous nonbuilding starts are up 33 percent, and highway and bridge starts gained 13 percent. Environmental public works moved 17 percent higher.

The largest nonbuilding projects to break ground in August were the $3.5 billion TransWest Express Transmission Project spanning Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and Nevada, the $2.9 billion Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion projects in Port Sulphur, Louisiana, and the $1.5 billion New England Clean Energy Connect Power Line in Maine.


In August, nonresidential building starts gained 40 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $475 billion – largely due to a surge in manufacturing activity. Nonresidential building starts would have gained 24 percent when excluding large manufacturing projects.

Commercial starts rose 8 percent in August, Dodge says, led by gains in parking structures and hotels. Institutional starts rose 35 percent, with all sectors but dormitories increasing. Manufacturing starts skyrocketed 285 percent from July to August, fueled by two large projects.

Through eight months of 2023, total nonresidential starts are 9 percent lower than that of 2022. Institutional starts gained 3 percent, while commercial and manufacturing starts fell 8 percent and 32 percent, respectively.

The largest nonresidential building projects to break ground in August were the $2.5 billion John Palmour Manufacturing Center for Silicon Carbide in Siler City, North Carolina, the $2 billion VinFast electrical vehicle plant in New Hill, North Carolina, and the $1.4 billion Midfield Satellite Concourse at Los Angeles International Airport in California.


Residential building starts in August fell 1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $418 billion.

Dodge says single-family starts gained 2 percent while multifamily starts lost 5 percent.

On a year-to-date basis through August, total residential starts are down 18 percent. Single-family starts are 21 percent lower, and multifamily starts are down 12 percent.

The largest multifamily structures to break ground in August were the $530 million Hub on Campus mixed-use building in Knoxville, Tennessee, the $425 million 250 Water Street mixed-use tower in New York, and the $340 million Ritz Carlton residences in North Palm Beach, Florida.


Regionally, Dodge says total construction starts in August rose in the Midwest, South Atlantic and West regions, but fell in its South Central region.

Related: Nonbuilding, residential gains drive construction starts upward in July

Kevin Yanik

About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry. He can be reached at 216-706-3724 or

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