An 18% drop in the overall value of new South Carolina construction contracts signed in December for future construction added up to a 36% decline for the entire year, according to McGraw-Hill Construction, publisher of Southeast Construction.

During December, the value of new nonresidential contracts fell 49% compared to the same period of a year ago, for a total of about $148.8 million. The residential category improved, however, with new starts increasing 12% for a monthly total of $221.6 million. The nonbuilding category jumped 30% during December, for a total of $76.8 million in new projects.

All three categories were decidedly down for the year as a whole, however. The nonresidential market showed the steepest decline, falling 41% for the year and totaling roughly $2.2 billion. Residential starts stalled by 35%, for a roughly $3-billion tally. Nonbuilding contracts fell a similar 33% during 2009, for a $1.3-billion total.

Overall, the value of South Carolina’s 2009 construction starts fell an estimated 36% for the year, for a final estimate of nearly $6.6 billion.