Compared to the same period of a year ago, the value of new contracts signed in August for future construction increased by 5% overall in North Carolina, but fell by 18% in South Carolina, according to the latest information from McGraw-Hill Construction, publisher of Southeast Construction.

In North Carolina, the overall total for new project starts was roughly $1.7 billion, up from last August’s total of nearly $1.6 billion. The overall monthly improvement was due to a surge in the nonresidential category, which jumped 88% compared to a year ago to tally $936.3 million. The residential sector dropped 37%, however, to total $503.8 million for the month. The nonbuilding sector – which includes infrastructure projects – fell 22% in August to total $215.5 million.

For the year-to-date, North Carolina’s overall contract activity is 36% behind 2008’s pace. The nonbuilding sector, with its $1.5-billion total, is an estimated 49% behind last year’s pace. Residential is 48% behind for the year, with nearly $3.7 billion in new contracts. Nonresidential is 11% behind ’08, with approximately $4 billion in new contracts so far.

In South Carolina, July’s 18% decline resulted in a monthly total of nearly $599.5 million.

The residential sector fell again in August, but only by 5%, for a total of roughly $304.3 million. The nonresidential sector tumbled 49% to tally $184 million. The nonbuilding sector surged, however. Its August total of $111.3 million was more than double the same period of a year ago.

For the year-to-date, South Carolina’s overall contract activity is 45% behind last year’s pace, with nearly $4.3 billion in new contracts. The nonresidential category is 42% behind 2008, with roughly $1.5 billion in new contracts. The residential sector is 42% behind ‘08’s pace as well, with a $2.1 billion. Nonbuilding is down 54% compared to 2008, with a $730.7-million tally.