April contracts increase 11 percent

McGraw-Hill Construction, a division of The McGraw-Hill Cos., New York, has reported construction starts increased 11 percent in April. For the 12 months ending in April, total construction was up 1 percent compared with the 12 months ending April 2011.

“Aside from the boost coming from this year’s nuclear power projects, the picture for construction starts in early 2012 is one of deterioration though March followed by some improvement in April,” says Robert A. Murray, vice president of economic affairs for McGraw-Hill Construction. “The overall level of activity continues to hover within a set range and has not yet shifted from a hesitant up-and-down pattern to more steady expansion. On a positive note, nonresidential building in April was able to bounce back, suggesting that this sector’s current status is not quite as weak as portrayed in February and March.”

Nonresidential building construction rose 14 percent in April. In the commercial category, manufacturing plant construction soared 136 percent; store construction increased 45 percent; office construction declined 4 percent; warehouse construction dropped 13 percent; and hotel construction fell 36 percent. In the institutional category, health care facility construction surged 70 percent; public buildings climbed 44 percent; amusement-related construction grew 28 percent; churches rose 7 percent; and educational buildings slipped 3 percent.

Residential building construction grew 1 percent in April. Single-family housing increased 2 percent, and multifamily construction declined 1 percent.

Nonbuilding construction increased 15 percent in April.

During the first four months of 2012, nonresidential building decreased 11 percent compared with the first four months of 2011. Residential building was up 13 percent, and nonbuilding construction increased 5 percent. By geographic region, the South Atlantic rose 39 percent; West was unchanged; Midwest decreased 6 percent; South Central decreased 11 percent; and Northeast dropped 12 percent.