Total Construction Starts Surge in July


Mega projects led gains, but details show broad-based construction expansion

HAMILTON, NJ — August 17, 2022 — Total construction starts rose 48% in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1.36 trillion, according to the Dodge Construction Network. This gain results from the start of three large manufacturing plants and two LNG export facilities. However, even without these projects, total construction starts would still have increased by 7%. Nonresidential building starts rose 79% in July, and nonbuilding starts jumped 120%, conversely residential starts decreased by 8%.

Year-to-date, total construction was 11% higher in the first seven months of 2022 compared to the same period of 2021. Nonresidential building starts were up 16 %.

For the 12 months ending July 2022, total construction starts were 10% above the 12 months ending July 2021. Nonresidential starts were 21% higher, residential starts gained 4%, and nonbuilding starts were up 10%.

“Mega-projects aside, construction continues to improve despite the pressure created by higher interest rates and labor scarcity,” said Richard Branch, chief economist for Dodge Construction Network. “Combined with the strong labor market, this is another indicator that the US is not currently in a recession. However, the Federal Reserve will continue to aggressively raise interest rates until they feel that inflation is under control. This will create mounting pressure on building activity and potentially lead to a slowdown in construction starts by year-end.”

Below is the breakdown for construction starts:

  • Nonbuilding construction starts rose 120% in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $433.5 billion. The main driver of growth during the month was the utility/gas sector, the two multi-billion-dollar LNG export plants broke ground. If not for those two projects, nonbuilding starts would have still risen a healthy 29% in July because of gains in miscellaneous nonbuilding starts (+85%), environmental public works (+60%) and highway and bridge starts (+33%) . Through the first seven months of the year, total nonbuilding starts were 16% higher than in 2021. Utility/gas plant starts gained 63% through seven months, highway and bridge starts were 16% higher, and environmental public works were 2% higher. Miscellaneous nonbuilding starts, by contrast, were down 20% through seven months.

For the 12 months ending July 2022, total nonbuilding starts were 10% higher than in the 12 months ending July 2021. Utility/gas plant starts were 44% higher, highway and bridge starts rose 7%, and environmental public works increased by 4% . Miscellaneous nonbuilding starts decreased by 18%.

The largest nonbuilding projects to break ground in July were the $9.4 billion first phase of the Driftwood LNG export terminal in Calcasieu Parish, LA, the $7 billion third stage of the Cheniere Corpus Christi LNG in Gregory, TX, and the $2 billion Intermountain Power Project in Delta, UT.

  • Nonresidential building starts rose an astonishing 79% in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $530.5 billion. Manufacturing was the main driver of growth due to four projects breaking ground that together total $17.9 billion. Without these projects, nonresidential building starts would still have risen by 16%. Institutional starts rose 28% during the month due to a solid gain for healthcare starts, while commercial starts lost 11%. Through the first seven months of 2022, nonresidential building starts were 22% higher than during the first seven months of 2021. Commercial starts advanced 13% and institutional starts rose 2%, while manufacturing starts were 185% higher on a year-to-date basis.

    For the 12 months ending July 2022, nonresidential building starts were 21% higher than in the 12 months ending July 2021. Commercial starts grew 13%, institutional starts rose 6%, and manufacturing starts swelled 170% on a 12-month rolling sum basis .

    The largest nonresidential building projects to break ground in July were the $10 billion Intel Semiconductor plant in Jersey Township, OH, the $2.9 billion BlueOval SK Battery Park Ford plant in Glendale, KY, and the $2.8 billion BlueOval City manufacturing campus in Stanton, TN.

  • Residential building starts fell 8% in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $391.9 billion. Single family starts lost 9%, and multifamily starts were 5% lower. Through the first seven months of 2022, residential starts were 1% higher than that of the same timeframe in 2021. Multifamily starts were up 24%, while single family starts housing 7%.

For the 12 months ending July 2022, residential starts improved 4% from the same period ending July 2021. Single family starts were 4% lower, and multifamily starts were 26% stronger on a 12-month rolling sum basis.

The largest multifamily structures to break ground in July were the $680 million first phase of the OneJournal Square building in Jersey City, NY, the $380 million 90Ninety mixed-use building in Jamaica, NY, and the $325 million Domino Sugar Factory redevelopment in Brooklyn, NY.

  • regionally, total construction starts in July rose in all regions except for the West.

Watch Chief Economist Richard Branch discuss July Constructions Starts here

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