New construction starts in July climbed 5% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $595.1 billion, it was reported by McGraw-Hill Construction, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies. July showed stronger activity for each of the construction industry's main sectors - nonresidential building, residential building, and nonbuilding construction (public works and electric utilities). For the first seven months of 2004, total construction on an unadjusted basis came to $342.4 billion, 10% higher than the corresponding period of 2003.
"The construction industry continues to be one of the stronger segments of the economy, amidst concerns that the late spring 'soft patch' may be leading to more extended deceleration," stated Robert A. Murray, vice president of economic affairs for McGraw-Hill Construction. "Right now, commercial building has picked up the pace, and even institutional building and public works are seeing modest improvement after their weak performance earlier in 2004. At the same time, the expected slowdown for single family housing has yet to materialize. As 2004 proceeds, it's anticipated that the robust year-to-date growth for residential building and total construction will settle back to some extent, since the comparison will then be versus the elevated volume for single family housing reported in the latter half of 2003. Still, 2004 is shaping up as another year of healthy expansion for total construction, which remains on track to top the 5% increase registered during 2003."