The value of Florida contracts for future construction rose sharply in March, with the monthly total of more than $2.6 billion representing a 35% increase over the same period of a year ago, according to McGraw-Hill Construction, publisher of ENR Southeast.

The uptick was a welcome change from the January and February, when contracts declined by about 50% each month.

For the month, the entire increase came from the nonbuilding sector, which totaled nearly $1.4 billion, well ahead of last March’s $464.5-million tally. The other two construction sectors declined by double-digit percentages, however. The nonresidential sector was down 19% compared to a year ago, for a $475.9-million total. Residential contracts totaled $786.8 million, or 12% lower than a year ago.

The March resurgence helped Florida’s year-to-date numbers improve slightly. Overall, 2011 Florida contracts are still 29% down compared to last year’s pace, with about $5.1 billion in new contracts so far.

All sectors are down considerably. Nonresidential contracts are 40% behind last year’s pace, with a total of about $1.2 billion. The value of residential contracts is just over $2 billion, or 12% behind 2010’s pace. And despite the March boost, the nonbuilding sector remains 35% lower than a year ago, with nearly $1.9 billion in new contracts so far.