Building Projects in Planning Move Higher in December

The Dodge Momentum Index increased 1.5 percent in December to 156.2 (2000=100) from the revised November reading of 153.9. 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. Both components of the Momentum Index rose over the month – the institutional component gained 2.3 percent, while the commercial component rose 0.9 percent.

For the full year, the Momentum Index averaged 141.9, a decline of 3.7 percent from 2018’s average. In 2019, the commercial component was 2.3 percent lower than the previous year, while the institutional component dropped 5.9 percent. Last year’s slip in the dollar value of projects entering planning suggests that construction spending for nonresidential buildings could see a setback in the year to come. However, the Momentum Index did end the year on a high note indicating that a decline in 2020 construction is likely to be modest in nature.

In December, 13 projects each with a value of $100 million or more entered planning. The leading commercial projects were the $300 million Churchill Downs Hotel in Louisville, Ky., and a $200 million Walmart distribution center in Topeka, Kan. The leading institutional projects were the $250 million Memorial Hermann Medical Center in Shenandoah, Texas, and the $240 million Advent Health Hospital in Lenexa, Kan.

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