New construction starts in February advanced 10 percent compared to the previous month, according to Dodge Data & Analytics. Starts totaled $667.6 billion at a seasonally adjusted annual rate.

Much of the lift in February came from the nonbuilding construction sector. Nonresidential building also helped with a moderate gain, which followed lackluster activity reported in January. Residential building, meanwhile, settled back in February following its improved January performance.

For the first two months of 2016, total construction starts on an unadjusted basis were $87.1 billion, down 16 percent from the same period a year ago. If the volatile electric power and gas plant category is excluded, total construction starts on a seasonally adjusted basis in February would be down 1 percent from January, while the year-to-date comparison on an unadjusted basis would show a 6-percent decline.

The February statistics produced a reading of 141 for the Dodge Index, compared to 129 for January. For 2015 as a whole, the Dodge Index averaged 138.

“The month-to-month pattern of construction starts will often reflect the presence of unusually large projects, and this explains February’s gain relative to January,” says Robert A. Murray, chief economist for Dodge. “It also helps to explain the elevated and unsustainable pace of total construction starts during the early months of 2015, and by comparison the substantial year-to-date declines for nonbuilding construction and nonresidential building so far in 2016.

Nonresidential building, at $185.5 billion (annual rate), rose 4 percent in February. The commercial building categories as a group increased 15 percent, strengthening for the third month in a row after weak activity reported back in November. Hotel construction in February climbed 48 percent, aided by the start of the $357 million hotel portion of the $530 million Gaylord Rockies Resort and Convention Center in Aurora CO and the $177 million hotel portion of the $306 million Omni City Center Convention Hotel in Louisville, Ky. Office construction in February advanced 25 percent, with the push coming from five large projects – the $275 million Southport Waterfront Corporate Campus in Renton, Wash., a $266 million office building in Washington D.C., a $200 million Facebook data center in Prineville OR, a $178 million research and development campus in Irvine, Calif., and a $174 million office building in San Francisco. During the first two months of 2016, the top five metropolitan areas ranked by the dollar amount of new office starts were the following – San Francisco, New York City, Washington D.C., Seattle, Wash. and Boston.

The institutional building categories as a group edged up 2 percent in February, registering a slight rebound after a 10-percent decline in the previous month. The amusement and recreational category climbed 15 percent in February. More substantial gains were reported for transportation terminals, up 74 percent with the boost coming from $79 million for rail station work in Waipahu, Hawaii, and the religious building category, which rebounded 83 percent after depressed activity in January. In contrast, educational facilities settled back 13 percent in February following 19-percent growth in the previous month. Despite the decline, February did include groundbreaking for several noteworthy educational facility projects. Decreased activity in February was also reported for healthcare facilities and the public buildings category, as each fell 8 percent.

Residential building in February dropped 5 percent to $281.3 billion (annual rate), following the 5-percent gain reported in January. Multifamily housing slipped 8 percent in February after strengthening 24 percent over the previous two months. Even with the pullback, February did include groundbreaking for eight multifamily projects valued at $100 million or greater. During the first two months of 2016, the leading metropolitan area in terms of the dollar amount of multifamily starts was New York City, maintaining its number one ranking for this project type. Rounding out the top five for multifamily construction were Miami, Boston, Atlanta and San Francisco.

The 16-percent decline for total construction starts on an unadjusted basis during the first two months of 2016 versus last year was the result of a mixed performance by major sector. Nonbuilding construction plunged 34 percent year-to-date, while Nonresidential building dropped 21 percent. Residential building registered a 9-percent year-to-date gain, with single family housing up 8 percent and multifamily housing up 12 percent.