New construction starts declined 9 percent in November compared to the previous month, according to McGraw Hill Construction, a division of the McGraw Hill Companies. Nonresidential building declined after October increased, and nonbuilding construction also dropped. Through the first 11 months of 2009, total construction on an unadjusted basis totaled $381 billion, a 28 percent year-over-year decline.
“During the spring, the construction start statistics made the transition from steady decline to more of an up-and-down pattern, and November’s pullback, following the strong gain in October, is a continuation of that pattern,” said Robert Murray, vice president of economic affairs for McGraw-Hill Construction. “Accordingly, even with the November decline, the evidence of recent months suggests that overall construction activity has at least stabilized at a low level. Single-family housing is no longer exerting a downward pull, and the federal stimulus act to this point has supported greater construction of highways, bridges, river/harbor development and courthouses. At the same time, the negatives of weak employment, tight bank lending, and diminished state fiscal health continues to depress most of the nonresidential building structure types as well as multifamily housing.”
Nonresidential building in November dropped 18 percent, while the manufacturing plant category dropped 85 percent from October’s strong volume. The commercial sector in November was down, with stores plunging 17 percent, warehouses 22 percent and hotels 34 percent. Offices gained 3 percent because of the $747 million renovation of the United Nations Secretariat Building in New York.