New construction starts in March advanced 4% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $594.1 billion, according to McGraw-Hill Construction, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies. Nonresidential building showed signs of strengthening after a weak February, and modest growth was reported for housing and public works. During the first three months of 2005, total construction on an unadjusted basis came to $131.6 billion, up 2% relative to the same period a year ago.
"The construction industry continues to be supported by a robust volume of homebuilding, and the early months of 2005 have seen an improved amount of public works construction," stated Robert A. Murray, vice president of economic affairs for McGraw-Hill Construction. "In contrast, new starts for nonresidential building have been weaker than expected, but the March upturn may be the initial step for this sector to resume the upward trend that was established last year."