Construction starts surged 21% in October from the previous month, on the heels of three straight months of decline. Total construction starts for the first 10 months of 2018 amounted to $679 billion, up 1% from the same period a year ago. From September to October, nonresidential construction climbed 53%, residential building rose 2%, and non-building construction increased 14%.
The growth in non-building construction in October was driven in part by a 187% increase in the electric utility/gas plant category after a very weak September, a 114% jump in river/harbor development, and a 26% advance in highway and bridge construction.
The sharp rise in nonresidential building in October was fueled by a 189% surge in manufacturing plant construction, a 48% increase in the commercial building categories, and a 28% increase in the institutional building categories.
Residential building edged up in October as multifamily housing construction grew 15%, while single-family housing declined 4%, largely due to affordability constraints.
Compared with the same period last year, total new construction starts by region for the first 10 months of 2018 performed as follows: South Central, up 11%; Northeast, down 18%; Midwest, up 5%; West, down 1%; and South Atlantic, up 5%.
“During 2018, the presence of very large projects in a given month has played a considerable role in shaping the monthly pattern of activity, and in October it was nonresidential building that especially benefitted from the start of very large projects,” said Robert A. Murray, chief economist for Dodge Data & Analytics.