HAMILTON, NJ – Total housing starts declined 2% in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $ 797.3 billion. Housing starts for non-buildings saw solid growth after recovering from a weak January. However, housing starts for residential and non-residential buildings fell, leading to a decline in total activity. The Dodge Index fell 2% in February to 169 (2000 = 100) from 171 in January.
"With spring just around the corner, there is hope for a strong economic recovery, fueled by the growing number of vaccinated Americans," said Richard Branch, chief economist at Dodge Data & Analytics. "The construction sector will hardly be able to benefit from this recovery, however, as the rapidly rising material prices and excess supply in many construction sectors weigh on the beginning of the first half of the year."
Below is the full breakdown of non-building, non-residential, and residential:
Non-building construction begins achieved a robust 20% in February at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $ 200.3 billion. The rest of the non-construction sector (mainly pipelines and siteworks) increased by 76%, while public environmental works increased by 26% and motorway and bridge starts increased by 11%. In contrast, utility / gas plant starts were lost 17% in February.
In the twelve months to February 2021, total construction starts were 13% lower than in the twelve months to February 2020. Starts for highways and bridges were 4% higher on a 12-month rolling total, while public environmental works increased 1% . Other non-buildings decreased 26% in the 12 months ended February 2021 and utility / gas start-ups decreased 37%.
The largest non-construction projects that will lay the foundation in February were the $ 2.1 billion Line 3 replacement program (a 337 mile pipeline in Minnesota), the $ 1.2 billion Red River water project in North Dakota, and the $ 950 million New England project Clean Energy Connect power line in Maine.
The construction of non-residential buildings begins fell 7% in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $ 208.1 billion. Institutional launches declined 8% over the month despite a strong recovery in healthcare. Inventory starts declined during the month after a robust January, offsetting increases in office and hotel starts and hurting the entire commercial sector by 8%.
In the 12 months to February 2021, housing starts for non-residential buildings decreased by 28% compared to the 12 months to February 2020. Commercial launches were down 30%, institutional launches were down 19%, and production starts were down 58% in the 12 months to February 2021.
The largest non-residential construction projects are due to lay the foundation stone in February were Ohio State University's $ 1.2 billion Wexner Inpatient Hospital Tower in Columbus, OH, ApiJect Systems' $ 785 million Gigafactory in Durham, NC, and Sterling's $ 450 million data center EdgeCore in Sterling, VA.
Residential building begins declined 7% in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $ 388.9 billion. Both single-family and multi-family launches declined over the month, losing 7% each.
In the twelve months to February 2021, the total number of new homes was 4% higher than in the twelve months to February 2020. The number of single-family homes increased by 12%, while the number of multi-family homes decreased by 12% on a 12-month basis.
The largest apartment buildings that laid the foundation stone in February Bronx Point's $ 349 million mixed-use development in The Bronx NY, the $ 215 million mixed-use Broadway block building in Long Beach, California, and the $ 200 million GoBroome Mixed-use building in New York, NY.
Regional, February starts fell lower in the South-Central and West regions, but higher in the Midwest, Northeast and South Atlantic regions.