Editor's Note: Links to articles containing further details about North and South Carolina's most recent construction contract activity numbers were mistakenly left out originally; those links have been added, along with a short description of each state's September gains by construction category. Links to further details about Florida's and Georgia's most recent data were included previously.
Is the Southeast construction industry finally turning a corner? To be sure, completely happy days are not here again. However, some of the latest news and data indicates that, at the very least, there is some slight momentum for the Southeast's building and design industries.
For starters, September marked the second month in a row--and only the second time this year--that all four states in the region reported positive construction contract activity, according to McGraw-Hill Construction. North Carolina led the pack with a 58% improvement compared to the preceding September. That overall gain was fueled by a roughly 300% gain in the nonbuilding category--which totaled $604.5 million in September, compared to $148.8 million a year ago--which includes infrastructure work, along with a 17% improvement in the nonresidential sector.
And South Carolina wasn't far behind, with a solid 35% monthly gain compared to the same period of a year ago. Here, all three of McGraw-Hill Construction categories tallied double-digit percentage increases: nonresidential was up 36%; residential improved by 33%; and nonbuilding was up by 42%.
Notably, both of the Carolinas are now in positive territory for the year. Through September, North Carolina's volume of new contracts--estimated at roughly $11.2 billion--is now 7% ahead of 2010's pace. In South Carolina, the September increase pushed the state's 2011 YTD numbers into positive territory for the first time this year. The state's total through September is now estimated at $5.3 billion, or 2% ahead of last year.
ENR Southeast readers may know that some of 2011's biggest project news has been coming out of the Carolinas, much of it revolving around the industrial sector.... For example, Caterpillar expanded its operations in Sanford, N.C.... Honda announced it would invest $20 million in an aircraft maintenance facility in Greensboro, N.C.... Facebook is building a second data centerin North Carolina.... Apple is building a solar farm in support of its data center in Maiden, N.C.... And Continental announced it would invest $500 million in a new production facility in Sumter, S.C.
Georgia is also edging up towards positive territory. September brought an estimated $941.3 million in new business to Georgia contractors--an 11% improvement over last September--says McGraw-Hill Construction. That brought the state's YTD contract volume to roughly $8 billion, or 4% below 2010's pace through the first nine months.
Down in the Sunshine State, contracts are still well below the pace of 2010, which was certainly nothing to write home about. Through September, Florida has recorded an estimated $16.9 billion in new contracts, or 18% behind the pace of a year ago.
The positive activity in the Carolinas, for instance, appears to be beating the national numbers. McGraw-Hill Construction's Robert Murray, speaking at the company's 2012 Outlook conference in Washington, D.C., said the company expects the national volume of new construction contracts to end up 2011 by about 4% lower than 2010.
So, what do you think? Do you think this brief spate of improvement in the four-state region's construction economy can continue? Are you seeing positive signs in the markets and regions where your firm works?
Let us hear your thoughts!