Construction starts moved 37% higher from October to November, reaching a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $988.9 billion. The large percentage gain was not only a response to a particularly weak October, but also numerous massive projects that broke ground during the month. By major sector, nonresidential building starts gained 61% over the month, while nonbuilding starts moved 82% higher. Residential building starts were flat from October to November.

“The presence or absence of large projects continues to add immense volatility to the monthly data,” says Richard Branch, chief economist of Dodge Data and Analytics. “However, the underlying trend for the year remains intact – that construction starts are settling back following nine consistent years of growth.”

Nonresidential building gained 61% from October to November to $366.5 billion (at a seasonally adjusted annual rate) as several large projects got underway during the month. Manufacturing starts rose 782% over the month due to the start of a large petrochemical plant, while institutional starts rose 27% and commercial starts moved 23% higher. Only two nonresidential building categories fell in November – hotels and healthcare.

The largest nonresidential building project to break ground in November was a $7.0 billion ExxonMobil petrochemical ethylene project in Gregory, Texas. Also starting in November was the Rancho Los Amigos South Campus $330 million office building in Los Angeles as well as the $296 million first phase of the Volkswagen Body Shop in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Year-to-date through November, nonresidential building starts were 3% lower than a year earlier. Commercial building starts were up 3% with gains in office buildings, warehouses and parking structures. Institutional starts were 6% lower through November with all major categories posting declines and manufacturing starts were down 15% through 11 months.

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