New construction starts in June climbed 11% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $896.3 billion, according to Dodge Data & Analytics. The increase marked the second double-digit gain in a row, following the 15% hike that was reported for May. Boosting activity in June was a sharp 57% advance for nonresidential building, which benefitted from the start of two massive manufacturing plant projects and two massive office building projects.
The two large manufacturing projects were a $6.5 billion uranium processing facility in Oak Ridge TN and a $1.7 billion petrochemical plant in Port Arthur TX, while the two large office projects were the $1.8 billion Spiral office tower in New York NY and a $665 million office tower in Chicago IL. Residential building in June grew 4%, helped by growth for multifamily housing.
The nonbuilding construction sector (public works and electric utilities) retreated 28% in June, pulling back after the sharp 37% increase reported in May that reflected the start of several large natural gas pipelines and rail-related projects. Through the first six months of 2018, total construction starts on an unadjusted basis were $395.7 billion, up 1% from the same period a year ago. If the volatile electric utility/gas plant category is excluded, total construction starts during the first six months of 2018 would be up 3% relative to last year.
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