The year-to-date value of construction starts through August 2006, excluding residential contracts, totaled $185 billion, according to Reed Construction Data.
This figure is 9.2% higher than in the first eight months of 2005. Allowing for construction cost inflation, the real volume of new starts has increased about 2% so far in 2006, compared to the same period in 2005.
Hotels, hospitals, educational facilities, retail buildings, highways, and bridges continue to be the strongest growth markets. Hotel starts jumped 122% in August from an unusually weak July, while education starts rose by a third in the same period. Factories and warehouses are the weakest markets for construction: starts are down 53% year to date from last year, although job site construction spending continues to expand as last year's surge of starts is completed.