Dodge Construction Momentum Index for March 2014

The Dodge Momentum Index retreated 0.8% in March compared to February, according to McGraw Hill Construction. The index is a monthly measure of the initial reports for non-residential building projects entering the planning stage, a lead indicator of construction spending within the next year. The March index was 113.8, down from a revised 114.8 in February and 118.3 in January. New plans for commercial buildings fell 1%, as declines in offices and hotels offset an increase in retail buildings, Dodge says.

Construction Employment Still Heading in a Positive Direction

Construction's unemployment numbers continue to give cause for optimism, improving to 11.3% in March from February's 12.8% as the industry gained 19,000 jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics' latest monthly employment report, released on April 4, also showed that construction's jobless rate last month was markedly better than its March 2013 level of 14.7%. Those rates are not adjusted for seasonal variations. Construction is highly seasonal, and its workforce tends to grow in the spring and summer months. All construction-industry sectors added jobs in March, led by specialty-trade contractors, which picked up 10,500. Buildings construction gained 5,300, and the heavy-civil engineering segment added 3,200.

GSA Seeks Developers For Federal Triangle South Project

The U.S. General Services Administration issued a request for qualification (RFQ) on April 8, seeking developers that can provide construction and development services for GSA's Regional Office Building and Cotton Annex, both located in southwest Washington, D.C. GSA plans to consolidate about 1,500 regional staff from the Regional Office Building into its headquarters and renovate three historic buildings at its St. Elizabeth's campus in southeast Washington, D.C. "The Federal Triangle South project is an opportunity to reexamine how the federal government uses its buildings and reassess how this space fits into the surrounding community," says GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini. The GSA is looking to create a "mixed-use neighborhood that will provide for a modern workplace for federal employees and create a vibrant, diverse and special community of its own," he says.

Detroit's 'City Airport' Could Get Funds From Bankruptcy

Detroit's Coleman A. Young International Airport, which currently has no commercial passengers but serves cargo, charter and private planes, could once again get passenger service, which was halted 14 years ago. If approved as part of the city's bankruptcy plan, the field known as City Airport could get $28.5 million in funds, according to the Detroit Free Press. The money would be used to upgrade hangers and the passenger terminal and build a new loading bridge for passengers. The funding also could help pay for maintenance and security. The airport is a short distance from downtown Detroit.

Construction Starts Slip in 2014

The dollar value of total construction starts through the first two months of this year was down 3% from the same period in 2013, according McGraw Hill Construction Dodge. Through February, non- residential building starts were down 12% and the non-building construction market was down 2% from a year ago, offsetting a 5% increase in the residential building market. "For non-residential buildings, the upturn has been gradual and subject to setbacks, such as what took place in this year's first two months," says Robert Murray, MHC's chief economist.