HAMILTON, NJ – Total housing starts were lost 5% in December, falling to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $ 784.3 billion. Housing starts for non-residential buildings decreased by 11% during the month, while housing starts for non-residential buildings decreased by 5%. Housing starts were essentially flat over the month. December starts were lower in three of the four regions. The South Central was the only region that saw an increase.
For the full year, total housing starts decreased 10% to $ 766.3 billion. Housing starts for non-residential buildings fell the most at 24%, while housing starts for non-residential buildings fell by 14%. Housing starts for residential buildings ended in 2020 thanks to strong single-family activity by 4%. In December, the Dodge Index fell 5% from 174 in November to 166 (2000 = 100). For the full year, the Dodge Index averaged 163, a 10% decrease from the 2019 average.
"The 2020 roller coaster year is over, but not forgotten," said Richard Branch, chief economist at Dodge Data & Analytics. “The scars from the pandemic and recession will be long-lasting, with significant declines in most construction sectors. Single-family houses, warehouses, as well as motorway and bridge starts were bright spots that should not be underestimated for their profits. Difficult months for the economy and construction will be ahead as COVID-19 cases rise. However, the continued rollout of vaccines means 2021 will be a better year. "
Non-building construction fell 5% in December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $ 185.3 billion. The declines were wide-ranging across the industry, with freeways and bridges, public environmental works and various construction starts declining in December. The utility / gas equipment category increased 70% for the month as two large power generation facilities came online.
The largest non-construction project that kicked off in December was the $ 1.2 billion Traverse Wind Energy Center, a 999 MW wind turbine in Blaine, Custer, and Kingfisher counties, OK. Also launched later in the month were the $ 1.0 billion Three Rivers Natural Gas Power Generation Center in Morris, IL, and the $ 555 million West Lake Corridor Project, an 8-mile extension of the South Shore Railway Line of the Northern Indiana Commuter District in Dyer. IL.
For the full year, housing starts decreased 14% from 2019 to $ 181.5 billion. Significant decreases in launches were observed in both the utility / gas systems category and various non-buildings. Housing starts for public environmental works decreased by 5% in 2020, while housing starts for highways and bridges increased by 8%.
Non-residential buildings declined 11% in December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $ 225.3 billion after rising significantly the previous month. Commercial launches declined 23% over the month as office, hotel and warehouse launches all posted double-digit declines. Institutional launches declined 5% while production launches rose 59% thanks to the largest non-residential construction project started in December, the $ 600 million ammonia plant on the Gulf Coast in Texas City, TX. Also as of December were the $ 341 million Orlando Health Jewett Orthopedic Hospital in Orlando, FL, and the $ 325 million University of Massachusetts Education and Research Building in Worcester, MA.
In 2020, non-residential construction starts declined 24% to $ 239.9 billion, the lowest since 2015. Commercial starts fell 26% over the year, with warehouse construction increasing 1% in 2020. Institutional housing starts fell 13% last year, while production starts fell 59%.
Residential building Takeoffs fell less than a percentage point in December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $ 373.7 billion. Multi-family launches saw a solid 24% increase over the month while single-family homes declined 7%.
The largest multi-family structure groundbreaking in December was the second phase of the Veyoel Moshe Gardens residential building in Kiryas Joel, NY, valued at $ 400 million. Also launched were the $ 200 million mixed-use building on NE Street in Washington, DC, and the $ 167 million AVA Arts District Live / Work complex in Los Angeles, California.
For the full year, home starts were $ 344.8 billion, 4% higher than 2019. Single-family starts rose 11%, multi-family starts rose 11%.