Economy Watch: Nonresidential Building Still in Growth Mode

The Dodge Momentum Index's March increase was largely due to a bump in institutional project planning for the month, Dodge Data & Analytics recently reported.
Coutesy of Elvert Barnes via Wikimedia Commons
Courtesy of Elvert Barnes via Wikimedia Commons

The Dodge Momentum Index rose 0.9 percent in February to 144.4 (2000 = 100) from its revised February reading of 143.2, according to a recent announcement from Dodge Data & Analytics. The Momentum Index is a monthly measure of the first (or initial) report for nonresidential building projects in planning, which leads construction spending for nonresidential buildings by a full year.

March’s increase was due to a 3.7 percent bump in planning for institutional projects, while commercial planning slipped, falling 1.2 percent for the month. The Momentum Index has now increased for six consecutive months. Even so, the underlying components have been volatile on a month-to-month basis.

On a quarter-over-quarter basis, institutional planning was up 23 percent since the end of 2016, while commercial planning was 2.9 percent behind. Even so, that suggests that construction activity will continue to see further growth as this year progresses.

In March, eight projects entered planning, each with a value that exceeded $100 million, Dodge reported. For the commercial building sector, the leading projects were the $200 million Universal Orlando Resort in Orlando and a $150 million office building in Clayton, Mo. The leading institutional project was a $500 million medical complex in Chicago.