But for January-September period this year, spending climbed 12% from the same months in 2014, Dodge noted. Those figures aren't seasonally adjusted.

Robert Murray, Dodge’s chief economist, said in a statement, “The level of construction starts was subdued during both August and September, retreating from the strength shown earlier in the year.”

The Dodge Index reflects that trend, dipping to 111 in September from August’s 117. The index’s 2000 level equals 100.

Among major categories, nonresidential construction declined 4% from August, to a $152.9-billion annual rate and residential work slipped 11%, to a rate of $236.9 billion, Dodge said.

The nonbuilding sector rose by 5%, to $133.9 billion.

Some key nonresidential segments were down sharply from August levels, including education, which dropped 20%, and public buildings, which plunged 42%. On the up side, commercial buildings increased 4% and office buildings rose 20%.

A 30% drop in multifamily housing volume contributed to residential’s overall month-to-month decline.

Within the nonbuilding sector, electric utility and gas projects’ volume was up 19% for the month. Highway and bridge work also gained, but only 1%.

Murray said that the surge in nonbuilding work earlier this year was due the start of several energy megaprojects and added that the segment’s spending pace wasn’t sustainable.

He also said, “Going forward, the performance of nonbuilding construction will be affected in large measure by the progress made by Congress in passing the next multiyear federal transportation bill.”

On the positive side, for the first nine months of the year, residential was up 17% year over year, to $200.2 billion, and nonbuilding work jumped 35%, to $143 billion, Dodge reported.

But nonresidential construction was off 7% to $154.2 billion during that period.

For many years, Engineering News-Record and Dodge were units of McGraw-Hill Financial and its predecessor companies. ENR was acquired in July by BNP Media.