The 1 percent gain for total construction starts on an unadjusted basis for the first eight months of 2013 was due to varied behavior by the three main construction sectors. Residential building climbed 27 percent year-to-date, with single family housing up 30 percent and multifamily housing up 19 percent.

Nonbuilding construction fell 21 percent year-to-date, as a steep 68 percent plunge for electric utilities outweighed a slight 2 percent increase for public works. Nonresidential building was down a modest 3 percent year-to-date, as the result of this pattern by major segment – commercial building, up 10 percent; institutional building, down 9 percent; and manufacturing building, down 14 percent.

By geography, total construction starts in the January-August period of 2013 showed gains in four regions – the Northeast, up 9 percent; the West, up 6 percent; the South Central, up 4 percent; and the Midwest, up 2 percent. The South Atlantic was the one major region to report a year-to-date decline, falling 13 percent, as the comparison was against the first eight months of 2012 that included the start of two large nuclear power facilities. If electric utilities are excluded from the year-to-date construction start statistics in the South Atlantic, then that region would register a 17 percent gain.

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