CMD: Nonresidential construction starts slide 27.7 percent from June to July

Government offices (+67.7%), warehouses (+59.9%) and law enforcement (+111%) are bright spots in July over June.
CMD announced today that July’s level of total construction starts in the U.S., excluding residential work, was $22.4 billion, a drop of 27.7% versus June. The major retreat was more noteworthy given CMD’s long-term June-to-July percentage change, due to seasonality, of + 3.5%. It’s worth noting, however, that the June-to-July shift last year was also weak, -19.8%.

July’s starts level was a return to slightly above the $21.7 billion average over the first four months of this year. Only May, at $31.4 billion, and June, at $31.0 billion, have been significantly better than the norm so far in 2015. May was +43.3% month over month while June was -1.1%.

The individual month of July’s starts level this year relative to the same month last year was -11.9%. Year-to-date starts in 2015 have been -1.3% relative to the same Jan- uary-to-July period in 2014.

The starts figures throughout this report are not seasonally adjusted (NSA). Nor are they adjusted for inflation. They are expressed in what are termed ‘current’ as opposed to ‘constant’ dollars.

‘Non-residential building’ plus ‘engineering/civil’ work accounts for a considerably larger share of total construction than residential activity. The former’s combined pro- portion of total put-in-place construction in the Census Bureau’s June report was 64%; the latter’s was 36%.

July’s month-to-month starts in all three major type-of-structure categories were down between one-quarter and one-third. Commercial (-34.0%) led the decline, but heavy engineering (-27.2%) and institutional (-24.6%) also suffered substantial losses. The smaller category of industrial starts (-9.8%) registered a drop as well, but not to the same painful degree.

Comparing this year’s standalone month of July with the same seventh month of last year, the civil/engineering category (-25.5%) stayed depressed, but the declines in commercial (-3.3%) and institutional (-10.6%) were less severe.

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