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Construction Starts Fell 8% in February

Amidst persistent high interest rates, building starts weaken, while nonbuilding starts show growth.

BEDFORD, MA —March 20, 2024 — Total construction starts fell 8% in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1.07 trillion, according to . Nonresidential building starts dropped 16%, while nonbuilding starts lost 3%, and residential starts fell by 2%.

For the 12 months ending February 2024, total construction starts were up 2% from the 12 months ending February 2023. Nonresidential building starts were down 2% while residential starts were 4% lower, and nonbuilding starts up 19% on a 12 month rolling sum basis.

“Construction activity was hit hard by higher rates and more restrictive credit standards”, said Richard Branch, chief economist for . “Starts struggled over the past several months as the lagged effect of higher rates impacted projects moving forward through the planning process. Additionally, the significant deficit of skilled labor led to further delays – especially in the manufacturing sector. While optimism should prevail in the second half of the year as the Federal Reserve begins to cut rates, some sectors like commercial, will make little headway over the remainder of the year.”

Nonbuilding

Nonbuilding construction starts fell 3% in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $275 billion. Highway and bridge starts lost 17% in the month, while environmental public works dropped 8%. On the plus side, utility/gas starts gained 13% and miscellaneous nonbuilding starts rose 48%.

For the 12 months ending February 2024, total non-building starts were 19% higher than the 12 months ending February 2023. Highway and bridge starts and environmental public works starts were both 12% higher. Utility/gas starts were 37% higher, while miscellaneous non-building starts rose 21% during the 12 months ending February 2024.

The largest non-building projects to break ground in February were the $1.1 billion Bull Run Filtration Facility in Gresham, Oregon, the $1.0 billion, 270 mile, oil pipeline in North Slope County, Alaska, and the $500 million Scatter Wash Battery Energy Storage System in Phoenix, Arizona.

Nonresidential

Nonresidential building starts fell 16% in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $407 billion. Institutional starts were down 19% during the month due to a large decline in transportation and education buildings. Commercial starts lost 3% due to a sizeable pullback in warehouse starts, while manufacturing starts were off 28%.

For the 12 months ending February 2024, nonresidential building starts were 2% lower than the previous 12 months. Manufacturing starts were down 13% and commercial starts were down 8%, while institutional starts were 9% higher for the 12 months ending February 2024.

The largest nonresidential building projects to break ground in February were the $1.8 billion Redwood Materials Battery Recycling Facility in Ridgeville, South Carolina, the $1.6 billion LG Chemical Battery Plant in Clarksville, Tennessee, and the $1.2 billion Hollywood Burbank Airport replacement project in Los Angeles, CA.

Residential

Residential building starts lost 2% in February, falling to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $392 billion. Single family starts improved 5% while multifamily starts lost 12%.

For the 12 months ending February 2024, residential starts were 4% lower than the previous 12 months. Single family starts were 2% lower, while multifamily starts were 6% lower on a 12 month rolling sum basis.

The largest multifamily structures to break ground in February were the $500 million 400 Lake Shore Drive North Tower in Chicago, Illinois, the $400 million Alia at 888 Ala Moana building in Honolulu, Hawaii, and a $200 million mixed-use development in Gowanus, New York.

Regionally, total construction starts in February fell in every region but the South Atlantic.

February 2024 Construction Starts

Feb StartsDodge Construction Starts

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Media Contact:
Amy Roepke | amy.roepke@construction.com

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