The pace of new North Carolina construction contracts slowed slightly in May, according to McGraw-Hill Construction. The state’s nearly $1.1 billion in new contracts was 5% behind the pace set last May.

Residential contracts improved slightly during the month, with the $528.5 million in new starts equaling a 2% gain compared to a year ago. Nonresidential’s total of nearly $394.9 million was 6% behind last May’s pace. The nonbuilding sector, which includes infrastructure projects, experienced a 24% decline, with about $128.6 million in new starts.

The slight May decline was actually an improvement of sorts. For the year-to-date, new North Carolina construction starts are down by about 26% overall, with an estimated $4.7 billion in new projects moving forward.

So far, for 2011, all sectors are down by double-digit percentages. The nonbuilding sector is 38% behind last year’s pace, with an estimated $887.5 million in new contracts through May. Nonresidential work is down 30%, with just over $1.6 billion in new starts. The pace of residential contracts, estimated at more than $2.2 billion through May, is 17% behind 2010’s pace.