Non-Residential Building Starts Regain Upward Movement in March

After a sluggish start to the year, non-residential building picked up its pace in March, jumping 24 percent after declines in January (down 9 percent) and February (down 7 percent), according to McGraw Hill Construction, a division of McGraw Hill Financial.

“The slow start for construction activity in early 2014 can be attributed to tough winter weather conditions, in combination with the up-and-down pattern that’s frequently been present during the hesitant upturn witnessed over the past two years,” says Robert A. Murray, chief economist for McGraw Hill Construction. “This is particularly true for nonresidential building, which bounced back sharply in March after depressed activity in January and February, alleviating some concern that its recovery may be stalling.

“Nonresidential building’s potential for more growth in 2014 is being supported by a rising volume of bank lending directed at commercial real estate development, more energy-related manufacturing projects, and signs that the institutional building sector is finally turning the corner after five years of decline.”

McGraw Hill credited much of the lift in March to the manufacturing plant category, which surged 140 percent after a weak February. The institutional side of the non-residential building market, which has also been slow of late, grew 30 percent.

Residential building, meanwhile, settled back 2 percent, thanks in part to the multi-family side of the housing market retreating 9 percent. That sector, however, is still up 17 percent above its 2014 average monthly pace.

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