New construction starts in December fell 10 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $708.9 billion, continuing to retreat after November’s 7-percent slide, according to Dodge Data & Analytics. The December downturn reflected diminished activity for each of the three main construction sectors.
Nonresidential building dropped 14 percent, as its commercial building segment lost momentum following its heightened November amount. Residential building pulled back 8 percent, due to reduced activity in December for both single-family and multifamily housing. Nonbuilding construction decreased 9 percent, with a steep plunge by the electric utility/gas plant category that outweighed a December rebound for public works.
For 2018 as a whole, total construction starts increased a slight 0.3 percent to $789.0 billion. This came after 7-percent gains in both 2016 and 2017, as well as 11-percent to 14-percent gains from 2012 through 2015.
Nonresidential building in December was $242.8 billion (annual rate), down 14 percent from the previous month. The commercial building categories as a group fell 27 percent after registering a 15-percent increase in November. Office construction in December dropped 34 percent.