Contracting for new construction slipped 3% in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $435.6 billion, reported the F.W. Dodge Division of The McGraw-Hill Companies. Nonresidential building declined while nonbuilding construction continued to advance due to increased power plant construction. .

According to Robert A. Murray, vice president of economic affairs for Dodge, “While consistent with other signs of a slowing economy, it’s also true that the construction industry continues to perform at a healthy pace. Both the public works and institutional building sectors are expected to see a general strengthening trend during 2000, while any loss of momentum for housing and commercial building should stay limited.” Nonresidential building dropped 8% in May at $150.3 million. Most commercial structure types posted declines such as warehouses, down 8%, offices, down 14%, and stores and shopping centers, down 15%. Hotel construction jumped 50% due to a $112 million project in San Diego and an $85 million project in Charlotte, NC. .

Educational buildings, supported by increased levy revenue, held steady, and church construction was up 2%. Reporting declines were amusement-related projects, slipping 3%, healthcare facilities down 19%, and public buildings, down 25%..

As reported, nonbuilding construction was up in May, growing 9% to $86.7 billion. Power plant construction surged on with a 175% increase aided by several projects: a $342 million project in Massachusetts, a $300 million project in California, a $210 million project in Missouri, and a $150 million project in Georgia. “About half the state have passed legislation deregulating electric utilities, and one outcome has been a surge of power plant construction over the past year. Contracting for power plants climbed 147% in 1999 and it now appears that new construction starts in 2000 will at least match last year’s heightened level. Both existing utilities and independent power producers have been actively constructing more cost-effective generating capacity,” said Murray. .

Geographically compared to 1999, the major U.S. regions performed as follows: the West, up 7%; the South Atlantic, up 5%; the Northeast, up 1%; the Midwest, down 5%; and South Central, down 7%.