Average construction backlogs in the South, including Texas and Louisiana, surpassed nine months during the final quarter of 2014, a feat regional builders haven't achieved since the first quarter of the year, according to data compiled by Washington, D.C.-based Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). Backlogs in the region rose .30 months, to 9.29 months, in quarter-to-quarter comparisons but declined .36 months, from 9.65 months, in year-over-year comparisons for the same period, data indicate. 

The Midwest and Eastern regions also logged increases in quarter-to-quarter comparisons, though a 21% decrease in the West, from 9.42 months to 7.42 months, contributed to a decline in average national backlogs, from 8.8 months to 8.7 months between the third and fourth quarters. Though national backlog slipped by 1%, the year concluded 4.4% higher than in the final quarter of 2013.

Declines in the West placed the region on par with backlog levels from a year ago. Both the Northeast and the Midwest registered their highest backlogs, 10.18 months and 7.02 months, respectively, since ABC launched the quarterly survey. The quarter also marked the first time Midwest backlogs have exceeded 7%.

Average backlogs in the commercial and institutional categories remained virtually unchanged over the past year, suggesting the pace of recovery will remain moderate overall, ABC says.

Average backlogs in the heavy industrial segment rose two months in year-over-year comparisons, reflecting a surge in production begun in mid-2009, at the recession's conclusion.

“Inconsistent growth in the volume of public work continues to suppress the pace of non-residential construction, says ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “However, private construction momentum continues to build.”