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New construction starts in March advanced 16% from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $809.2 billion, according to Dodge Data & Analytics.
The substantial gain followed a lackluster performance during the first two months of 2019, as total construction starts in March were able to climb back to a level slightly above the average monthly pace during 2018. The nonbuilding construction sector, comprised of public works and electric utilities/gas plants, jumped 40% in March from a weak February, lifted by the start of a $4.3 billion liquefied natural gas.
Nonresidential building increased 24% in March, aided by groundbreaking for several large projects. These included the $1.6 billion Toyota-Mazda automotive manufacturing facility in Huntsville, Alabama, a $1.1 billion hotel and theater redevelopment in New York, and the $850 million renovation of the KeyArena in Seattle. In contrast, residential building slipped 3% in March, as multifamily housing retreated for the second consecutive month.
During the first three months of 2019, total construction starts on an unadjusted basis were $164.5 billion, down 10% from the same period a year ago. On a twelve-month moving total basis, total construction starts for the twelve months ending March 2019 essentially matched the corresponding amount for the twelve months ending March.