Construction Starts Up in March But Material Prices Could Weigh Heavy on Recovery

Construction starts saw a welcome increase in March, reported Richard Branch, chief economist for Dodge Data & Analytics, gaining back the momentum lost in the previous month. Branch forecasts construction will continue to improve, but headwinds in the form of material prices could prove a drag on the construction recovery.

According to Dodge Data, total construction starts saw a gain of 2% for the month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $825.3 billion, largely fueled by growth in nonresidential building starts. This uptick was only partially offset by a much weaker increase in residential starts and declines in nonbuilding starts. The Dodge Index a monthly measure of the first (or initial) report for nonresidential building projects in planning, also rose 2% in March to 175 (2000=100) from February’s reading of 172.

For the first three months of 2021, total construction starts were down 4% on a year-over-year basis, dipping to $187.4 billion for the quarter…