I recently posted six-month reviews of new contract activity in Florida and Georgia. A look back at Florida's past six months started the review, with my intention being to ask if that state's uptick in new contracts--represented by five of six of those months in positive territory--constituted a recovery of sorts.

I'm giving the rest of the states in ENR Southeast's coverage area equal time. And now it's North Carolina's turn in the spotlight.

North Carolina's ride over the last six months appears to be much less clear than Florida's. For instance, during that period, McGraw-Hill Construction reported three months as negative compared to the same period of a year ago, and the other three as negative. (And two of those months were extreme, with November declining by 52% and September increasing by 58%, in relative terms.)

But percentage fluctuations--which relate to the same period of a year ago, i.e., Sept. 2011 v. Sept. '10--aren't always the most telling indicators. Since McGraw-Hill Construction uses the full value of newly started contracts in these monthly reports, an exceptionally large single project can skew a month's percentages. For instance, if a $1-billion power project started in July of 2011, it might elevate the state's new starts total from its average of $1 billion, say, to around $2 billion. And if July 2010 had recorded $1 billion in new starts, the July 2011 figure would appear to be a 100% improvement - just as next July's total may pale in comparison. 

Looking instead at the dollar figures below, four of the five months prior to January were fairly consistent, with McGraw-Hill Construction's estimates for new contracts ranging between $930 million and about $1.1 billion. Considering that fact, it looks like January's $752-million total was about 27% off that roughly $1-billion pace of the other five months.

January $752 million -27%
December $1.1 billion +17%
November $1 billion -52%
October $930.7 million -18%
September $1.3 billion +58%
August $1.1 billion +11%

So there you have it. What's your take? Let us hear your thoughts!