The Dodge Momentum Index moved 5.8 percent higher in September to 133.5 (2000=100) from its August reading of 126.2. The Momentum Index 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. The impetus behind September’s gain was a 12.0 percent increase from the previous month in institutional building planning, according to the latest Dodge report.

State and local budgets, which finance many projects in the institutional category, continue to recover from their recessionary weakness. With this support, planning for new institutional buildings has trended upward over the past year, although in a saw-tooth pattern, according to the report. Commercial construction, on the other hand, is at a more mature stage of its recovery and planning has been relatively more stable. Planning in the commercial category increased 1.8 percent in September.

There were a total of eight projects entering planning in September with a value that exceeded $100 million, split equally between commercial and institutional projects. In the commercial building sector, a $330 million office building for Fannie Mae in Washington, D.C., and a $150 million alteration of an office complex in Plano, Texas, entered planning. Within the institutional building sector, a $400 million hospital in Rockford, Ill., and a $230 million clinic addition in Weston, Fla., entered planning.