Large Increase in Institutional Building Planning Pushes Dodge Momentum Index Upward

There were 13 projects with a value of $100 million or more that entered planning in April, pushing the Index upward by 8.6%.

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Dodge Data & Analytics

The Dodge Momentum Index, issued by Dodge Data & Analytics, rose for the fifth consecutive month, climbing 8.6% in April to 162.4 (2000=100) from March’s revised reading of 149.5. The Index is a monthly measure of the first (or initial) report for nonresidential building projects in planning, which have been shown to lead construction spending for nonresidential buildings by a full year. As in February and March, April's gain stems primarily from a sizable increase in institutional buildings entering the planning stage.

Dodge 1Despite hitting a nine-year low in January, institutional planning has climbed steadily over the past three months, rebounding by an impressive 77% and dominated by gains in healthcare and laboratory projects. This has pushed institutional planning 50% higher on a year-over-year basis. But while the recent gains reflect a budding recovery for the sector, the lag between planning and project starts means it is unlikely to be reflected in construction starts until late 2021 or early 2022.

The commercial component has slipped in recent months, as fewer warehouse projects entered the planning stage. According to Dodge Data, it eased by 1% in April 2021, yet even given these lethargic results, it is still 21% above April 2020.

Overall, the Momentum Index is 31% higher than in April 2020, which was the first full month of COVID-19 shutdowns.

Thirteen projects with a value of $100 million or more entered planning in April.

  • Leading commercial projects: a $400 million mixed-use office project in San Francisco, CA, and a $250 million warehouse project in Mesa, AZ.
  • Leading institutional projects: the $300 million first phase of The Cove JC laboratory and education facility in Jersey City, NJ, and a $175 million laboratory project in Boston, MA.

Information provided by Dodge Data & Analytics and edited by Becky Schultz.