LOS ANGELES Public works and utilities led an 8-percent gain in U.S. construction starts in March despite a fallback in housing and other nonresidential building sectors, according to McGraw-Hill Construction.
Nonbuilding construction, which includes public works projects and electric utilities, rose 42.3 percent from February to an annual rate of $139.87 billion, pushing total construction starts to an annual rate of $475.68 billion, the New York-based company said in its monthly construction report. Meanwhile, nonresidential building starts fell 2.5 percent to an annual rate of $136.19 billion, while residential starts dipped 0.9 percent to $199.63 billion.
However, neither public works nor utilities are expected to show much growth in 2013 due to federal budget constraints and declining utility plant construction, according to Robert Murray, McGraw-Hills vice president of economic affairs. Utility plant construction reached a record-high level last year, he noted.
Meanwhile, overall construction starts held steady in the first quarter compared with the same period last year, with a 33-percent gain in residential starts offsetting a 22.7-percent drop in nonbuilding construction and an 8.7-percent decline in nonresidential construction.