New construction starts in August retreated 1% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $514.2 billion, according to McGraw-Hill Construction Dodge, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies. September showed a mixed performance by the construction industry's main sectors - nonresidential building lost momentum, housing was essentially steady at a high volume, while nonbuilding construction surged upward due to the start of three large power plants. Over the first nine months of 2003, total construction registered a 1% gain compared to the same period a year ago.
"New construction starts are now moving at a pace slightly above last year," stated Robert A. Murray, vice president of economic affairs for McGraw-Hill Construction Dodge. "Residential building continues to be very strong, and the shortfall for nonresidential building and nonbuilding construction compared to last year has narrowed as 2003 has proceeded."