Nonresidential building in December fell 23 percent to $196.6 billion, following its 32-percent increase in the previous month, according to Dodge Data & Analytics. For 2014 as a whole, nonresidential building climbed 17 percent to $208.2 billion, following an 11-percent gain in 2013.

New construction starts in December dropped 16 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $568.2 billion, following a 13-percent increase in November. Through 2014, total construction starts climbed 7 percent to $575.3 billion. December produced a Dodge Index reading of 120, compared to 143 in November. For all of 2014, the Dodge Index came in at 122.

“A better sense of the progression of construction starts over the course of 2014 comes from looking at the data on a quarterly basis,” says Robert A. Murray, chief economist for Dodge Data & Analytics. “Activity weakened during the first quarter of 2014, falling 10 percent from the end of 2013, but then showed steady improvement as 2014 proceeded, with gains in the second quarter, up 9 percent; the third quarter, up 5 percent; and the fourth quarter, up 2 percent.”

The 7-percent gain for total construction starts at the national level in 2014 was the result of greater activity in all five major regions. Leading the way was the South Central, up 14 percent, followed by the South Atlantic, up 11 percent; the West, up 7 percent; the Northeast, up 2 percent; and the Midwest, up 1 percent.