New construction starts in July climbed 6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $588.8 billion, according to McGraw Hill Construction. Nonresidential building continued to advance, and residential building was unchanged from its pace in June.

For the first seven months of 2014, total construction starts on an unadjusted basis were reported at $311.6 billion, a 4 percent gain compared to the same period a year ago.

The July statistics raised the Dodge Index to 125 (2000=100), up from a revised 118 for June, and marking the highest level for the Dodge Index so far in 2014.

“The construction expansion this year is getting more of a contribution from nonresidential building,” says Robert A. Murray, chief economist and vice president for McGraw Hill Construction. “Manufacturing plant construction is seeing the start of numerous chemical and energy-related projects, consistent with the nation’s growing energy sector.

“Commercial building is maintaining its upward momentum from low levels, while institutional building with its up-and-down pattern appears to be stabilizing after a lengthy decline. With residential building being limited so far in 2014 by the sluggish single family market, the further growth for nonresidential building has been needed to keep the construction expansion going.”

Nonresidential building in July increased 7 percent to $229.0 billion (annual rate), showing further growth on top of the 12 percent increase reported in June. The institutional building group as a whole dropped 14 percent in July, retreating after growing 12 percent during the previous two months.

Multifamily housing in July increased 8 percent, maintaining the moderate upward trend that’s been present during 2014.