All four states in ENR Southeast's coverage area experienced sizeable gains in the volume of new construction contracts in January, according to McGraw-Hill Construction. Whether these increases foretell a coming recovery for the region's building markets, only time will tell. But the size and pervasiveness of the improvements were certainly worth noting.
Here's a quick rundown of the overall gains in new contracts for each state, with each compared to last January:
  • Florida: +29%, with $2.5 billion in new contracts;
  • Georgia, +25%, for $944.3 million;
  • North Carolina, +20%, for just over $1 billion in new work; and
  • South Carolina, +35%, for a $546.5-million monthly total.
A further dive into the numbers shows that these gains resulted mostly from jumps in the nonresidential category—something that should give Southeast builders cause for optimism. So, here's a quick state-by-state rundown:
Florida: Nonresidential was up 31% compared to last January, with nearly $992.5 million in new contracts; residential, up 70% to more than $1.2 billion; and nonbuilding, or infrastructure, down 36%, to $315.8 million.
Georgia: Nonresidential, up 50% to $439.3 million; residential, up 34% to $380.5 million; and nonbuilding, down 29%, for $124.5 million.
North Carolina: Nonresidential, up 26% to $257.8 million; residential, up 10% to $601.2 million; and nonbuilding, up 51% to $190.8 million.
South Carolina: Nonresidential, up 85% to $169.5 million; residential, up 27% to $327.7 million; and nonbuilding, down 10% to $49.3 million.
Those improving nonresidential numbers reflected a surge in some of the Southeast's major metros. The Atlanta market, for instance—which hasn't been generating much excitement for builders there for a few years now—broke out in a big way in January, delivering $445.6 million in new contracts, a 68% improvement compared to a year ago, according to McGraw-Hill. And with the approval of a $1-billion football stadium for the Atlanta Falcons looking more likely, there could be additional cause for builder optimism.
Miami—which actually has been generating some excitement for builders there—continued its hot streak, with about $384.5 million worth of new contracts moving ahead, a 63% improvement.
And even Tampa got into the act, with its January contracts total of $351.6 million representing a 75% overall jump compared to a year ago.
Of course, it's too early to tell if this is a long-term trend and a sign of what's to come in 2013. But the similarity of building trends does suggest a trend.
What do you think? Are you getting optimistic about 2013? Is your firm seeing an increasing number of project opportunities? Let us hear your thoughts!