September Construction Starts Decrease 5 Percent

Glass Magazine
October 21, 2019

New construction starts moved 5 percent lower in September to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $774.1 billion, according to Dodge Data & Analytics. This marks the second consecutive monthly decline in construction starts. Nonresidential construction starts rose 1 percent during the month aided by the start of a large manufacturing project.

The September statistics pushed the Dodge Index lower to 164 (2000=100) compared to 173 in August, marking the lowest reading for the Index since May.  Despite the month’s decline, the Index remains close to its 2019 average of 167.

Through the first nine months of 2019, total construction starts were 3 percent lower than 2018 due to pullbacks in both residential and nonresidential construction starts.

“Large projects continue to make their presence felt in the monthly statistics, sometimes obscuring underlying trends,” says Richard Branch, chief economist for Dodge Data & Analytics. “Nevertheless, construction starts have certainly throttled back in 2019 due to mounting uncertainty over the country’s economic health.”

Nonresidential building starts inched 1 percent higher in September to $287 billion, at a seasonally adjusted annual rate. The increase was a result of a 243 percent increase in manufacturing construction due to the start of a large automotive plant. Commercial construction starts fell 14 percent over the month as the office sector pulled back from a very strong level of activity during the prior month. Institutional construction starts fell 1 percent.

Year-to-date through September, nonresidential building starts totaled $215.0 billion, a 4 percent decline from the first nine months of 2018. Commercial starts were 6 percent higher pushed forward by the office, warehouse, and parking categories.