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.