Educational construction moves to head of the class

August 01, 2001 |

Almost $18 billion in construction work was completed on educational facilities through the first four months of 2001, an increase of 10.5 percent over the total for January through April 2000. This was twice the rate of growth in overall new construction spending — 5.2 percent — during the first third of this year, and reflects the high national priority being placed on this market sector.

The construction of new educational buildings — as well as the expansion or renovation of existing structures — continues to grow at an extremely healthy pace, regardless of the prevailing macroeconomic environment. Spending to build new or to renovate/expand existing educational facilities was valued at an estimated $58.2 billion during this past year. During 2000, overall educational construction spending increased at an extraordinary 17.6 percent annual rate — better than twice the 7.8 percent increase recorded between 1998 and 1999, and the strongest growth recorded by any nonresidential building sector.

The combination of favorable demographic trends, aging educational infrastructure and the policy priorities of the new president and Congress should ensure strong gains year in and year out throughout at least the next five years.

Publicly funded school construction made up almost 80 percent of the educational sector spending total during 2000. After increasing by 9.6 percent between 1998 and 1999, public school construction spending surged 16.8 percent higher during this past year. Through April 2001, publicly funded educational construction was growing at a 10.5 percent annual rate.

Privately funded school construction spending during 1999 grew a scant 0.9 percent above its 1998 level, but the 1999-2000 gain came in at an exceptional 20.5 percent. Thus far in 2001, spending is up 10.3 percent from the January through April 2000 total. Growth rates for both subsectors in April were even higher than in January.

Projected school construction

(Billions of dollars)

2000 2002
Source: F.W. Dodge
Primary schools $9.80 $10.37
Middle/junior highs 3.31 3.94
Senior high schools 12.42 11.98
Vocational schools 0.42 0.72
TOTAL $25.95 $27.01

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