Measure of Nonresidential Building Projects in Planning Recovers

The Dodge Momentum Index rose 4.7 percent in January to 157.7 (2000=100) from the revised December reading of 150.6. The Momentum Index, issued by Dodge Data & Analytics, is a monthly measure of the first (or initial) report for nonresidential building projects in planning, which have been shown to lead construction spending for nonresidential buildings by a full year. The increase in January reflected similar gains for the two components of the Momentum Index; institutional building, up 5 percent; and commercial building, up 4.6 percent. 

The January increase essentially reverses the decline in December, and brings the overall Momentum Index back to the level in November. The January reading is also consistent with the monthly average for the second half of 2018, and just slightly below the current expansion’s high mark set in July 2018. Notably, however, the commercial component remains below the highs set during the summer of 2018, while the institutional component has gained traction as public funding for projects such as schools and transportation terminals remains supportive. 

In January, nine projects each with a value of $100 million or more entered planning. The leading commercial building projects were two $300 million CloudHQ data centers in Ashburn, Va. The leading institutional building projects were a $235 million arena renovation project in Phoenix, and a $140 million academic building at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C.

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