Contracting for new construction in March decreased 5% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $462.8 billion, according to the F.W. Dodge Division of The McGraw-Hill Companies. Nonresidential building and housing showed slight weakening, while a larger decline was reported for nonbuilding construction such as public works and utilities, following an exceptionally strong February.
"The construction industry witnessed a healthy beginning to 2001, proving to be resilient against the backdrop of a slowing economy," said Robert A. Murray, vice president of economic affairs for F.W. Dodge. "The March report shows activity settling back to a pace closer to what occurred during most of last year. There may be some concern that this represents the start of an extended decline, although it appears more likely that the construction industry is now in the process of leveling off near its 2000 volume."