The Dodge Momentum Index (DMI), issued by Dodge Construction Network, advanced 1.9% in February to 203.0 (2000=100) from the revised January reading of 199.3. In February, the commercial component of the DMI rose 1.4%, and the institutional component increased 2.9%.
“The Dodge Momentum Index returned to growth in February after falling 9% last month,” stated Sarah Martin, associate director of forecasting for Dodge Construction Network. “The continued elevation in the DMI should provide hope that construction activity will grow in 2024. Owners and developers tend to put projects into planning until well after economic conditions weaken. During the Great Recession, for example, the DMI did not substantially decline until 2009. Therefore, the anticipated mild economic growth in 2023 could cause the DMI to moderate over the year, but it is unlikely to fall below historical norms.”
Commercial planning in February was bolstered by almost 20% growth in office planning activity, as data centers continued to steadily enter the planning queue. Institutional planning was driven higher by growth in education and healthcare projects, notably the continued investment in research laboratories. On a year-over-year basis, the DMI remains 43% higher than in February 2022. The commercial component was up 55%, and the institutional component was 22% higher.
A total of 22 projects with a value of $100 million or more entered planning in February. The leading commercial projects included the $500 million Northwestern Mutual Headquarters in Milwaukee, and the $375 million Legacy Highlands warehouse and retail project in Beaumont, Calif. The leading institutional projects comprised of the $500 million University of Michigan Residence and Dining Hall in Ann Arbor, Mich., and the $213 million Center of Innovation laboratory building in Emeryville, Calif.
The DMI is a monthly measure of the initial report for nonresidential building projects in planning, shown to lead construction spending for nonresidential buildings by a full year.