The Dodge Momentum Index lost 4.4 percent in February, falling to 146.9 (the year 2000 = 100) from the revised January reading of 153.6. The momentum index, issued by Dodge Data & Analytics, is a monthly measure of the first (or initial) report for nonresidential building projects in planning, which have been shown to lead construction spending for nonresidential buildings by a full year. Both components of the momentum index lost steam in February – the institutional component moved 5.9-percent lower, while the commercial component dropped 3.4 percent.

Since November, the index has re-established a sawtooth pattern that’s often been present in recent years. It’s also become clear that the average level of activity has downshifted slightly since the summer of 2018. From April through August of last year, the average level of the momentum index was 158.6, while from September through the latest month the average is 150.3 – a decline of 5.2 percent. This shift continues to suggest that the growth in construction activity will moderate over the coming year.

In February, nine projects each with a value of $100 million or more entered planning. The leading commercial building projects were the $200 million Keurig/Dr. Pepper office project in Frisco, Texas, and a $200 million mixed-use development in San Jose, Calif. The leading institutional building projects were the $300 million VCU Health Children’s Hospital in Richmond, Va., and the $187 million Wolfson Children’s Critical Care Tower in Jacksonville, Fla.