Despite overall weakening of jobs numbers for last month, the number of people working on commercial real estate construction projects has surged in the first quarter, according to CoStar.
Nationally, 13,300 jobs were added in the sector and were boosted by large institutional and office projects. Anirban Basu, chief economist with the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), told CoStar, “A number of nonresidential segments performed particularly well from the perspective of job creation. These included specialty trade contractors, who remained busy working on commercial construction projects, and heavy and civil engineering, which suggests a pickup in highway and street spending.”
CoStar also reported that the Dodge Momentum Index, a gauge of nonresidential construction projects in planning shown to lead hard construction spending by a full year, increased by 0.9% in March to 144.4 from its revised February reading of 143.2 and has now risen for six consecutive months.
In addition, another indicator of future construction activity, the Architecture Billing Index is also on the rise.
“New project inquiries have been very strong through the first two months of the year, and in February new design contracts at architecture firms posted their largest monthly gain in over two years,” said Kermit Baker, chief economist with the American Institute of Architects, which compiles the monthly billings indices.