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Total Construction Starts Flat in December

Total construction starts were flat in December with a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $879.3 billion, according to Dodge Construction Network. Nonresidential building starts improved by 3 percent.

Across 2021, total construction starts rose by 12 percent compared to 2020. Nonresidential buildings increased 12 percent.

“The increase in construction starts was impressive given the many challenges the industry faced during the year. Higher material prices, labor shortages, and multiple waves of COVID infections threatened to dampen the recovery,” says Richard Branch, chief economist for Dodge Construction Network. “However, construction remained resilient and persistent throughout the year in the face of these difficult issues. While these challenges will remain in 2022, the industry is well-positioned to make further gains fed by a growing pipeline of nonresidential projects waiting to break ground and the infusion of money directed towards infrastructure.”

Nonresidential Building

Nonresidential building starts improved 3 percent in December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $284.3 billion. The commercial sector advanced 12 percent due to gains in retail, office, and hotel starts while parking structures lost ground. Institutional starts fell 17 percent in December as healthcare pulled back following a strong November. Manufacturing starts, meanwhile, posted a significant gain due to the start of a large project.

For the full year, nonresidential building starts gained 12 percent from 2020. Commercial starts were up 8 percent, institutional starts improved 5 percent, and manufacturing starts rose 89 percent for the year.

The largest nonresidential building projects to break ground in December were the $700 million expansion of the Danimer Scientific manufacturing facility in Bainbridge, Georgia, the $650 million expansion of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in Los Angeles, California, and the $500 million renovation of the Fontainebleau Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Regionally, total construction starts in December rose in the South Atlantic and Northeast regions, but fell in the Midwest, South Central, and West regions.