New construction starts in March slipped 1% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of$475.2 billion, it was reported by McGraw-Hill Construction Dodge, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies. Both nonresidential building and housing fell slightly, while nonbuilding construction made a partial rebound from a weak February.
"Last year the construction industry leveled off, and the early results for 2003 are now pointing toward a mild loss of momentum," stated Robert A. Murray, vice president of economic affairs for McGraw-Hill Construction Dodge. "Single family housing has held up quite well, thanks to low mortgage rates, but other construction sectors have been dampened by the lackluster economy, the diminished fiscal health of the federal and state governments, and uncertainty related to the buildup towards war against Iraq. The quick end to hostilities has lifted some of the uncertainty, but it may take some time before the economy strengthens in a sustained manner, and it will be even longer before the federal and state governments see improvement in their fiscal positions. In this environment, the moderate slowdown experienced by construction during the first quarter provides a good indication of how the year as a whole will play out."