LOS ANGELES A
falloff in public works projects helped push U.S. construction
starts down 1.6 percent in July vs. the previous month,
according to McGraw Hill Construction, a division of McGraw
Hill Financial Inc., New York.
The value of new
starts slipped to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $479.1
billion compared with $486.8 billion in June. The value of
construction starts in the first seven months of this year
totaled $281.7 billion, up 1 percent from the same period in
The July decline was
due primarily to fewer public works projects, which can be
volatile from month to month, said Robert A. Murray, vice
president of economic affairs at McGraw Hill Construction.
Nonbuilding construction, which includes public works and
electric utilities, fell 18 percent in July after rising in
June due to the impact of some large projects.
activity grew 3 percent in July compared with the previous
month, while nonresidential construction, viewed as critical to
demand for structural steel products, rose 8 percent to $161.3
billion. However, the value of commercial construction starts
in July was down 2 percent from June while the value of
manufacturing plant starts fell 31 percent.
Murray said that
despite the drop in public works construction, the data for
July showed "evidence that the hesitant expansion for
construction is proceeding."
American Institute of Architects said its architecture billings
index rose more than a full point in July, "indicating
acceleration in the growth of design activity nationally."