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By: Alex Carrick on March 3rd, 2017

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Handy Reference Guide for U.S. School Construction Starts

Economic News

Two previous articles shone spotlights on ConstructConnect’s U.S. and Canadian starts statistics, first for ‘roads’, then for ‘hospitals’. They both also stressed the words ‘handy reference guide’ in their headlines.

2017-03-03-US-Education-Graphic

In this current story, plus the next one, there will be a concentration on school construction starts.

The following looks at the U.S. market, with a separation between ‘lower’ and ‘higher’ education. It would be desirable to do the same for Canada, but that’s not possible. Going forward from January 2017 on, there will be unique numbers for elementary and secondary schools versus colleges and universities in ConstructConnect’s Canadian data set. The history, though, is only for ‘total educational’. (The next article will feature ‘total educational’ starts in both the U.S. and Canada.)

The left-hand side of accompanying Table 1 shows 2010-to-2015 average annual dollar volumes and average annual percent changes for elementary and secondary school construction starts in all states and major geographic regions. The average annual dollar volume was $35.3 billion and the average annual percent change was a negligible +0.2%.

The right-hand side is for the latest full year, 2016. The dollar volume level last year was $43.0 billion and the year-over-year percentage change was an expansive +9.8%.  

The layout of accompanying Table 2 is the same as for Table 1, but with the starts statistics pertaining to higher education rather than the lower grades.

During the six years encompassed by the 2010-2015 period, the annual dollar volume of construction starts on colleges and universities was $17.7 billion. The annual average percent change was +8.1%, which was quite an improvement on the no-growth (+0.2%) scenario recorded by ‘lower’ education.

In 2016, the dollar volume of construction starts on colleges and universities in the U.S. was $21.7 billion and the year-over-year gain was +9.5%.

It’s an interesting fact – yielding a memorable ‘rule of thumb’ – that in 2010-to-2015 on average, and again in 2016, there was an almost exact two-thirds versus one-third split between lower education and higher education construction starts in the U.S.

Elementary and secondary school starts (plus a small volume of ‘specialty’ school work) made up 67% of total educational starts on average between 2010 and 2015 and again in the individual year of 2016.

Colleges and universities accounted for the other 33%.

The fact that higher education is proceeding with capital spending at a rapid pace can perhaps be explained in several ways. First, private sector enterprises are increasingly teaming up with experts in the academic world to establish cutting-edge research facilities.

Second, alumni that have become newly rich, often in some high-tech or frontier-science realm, are thanking their alma maters with generous financial gifts. They are often rewarded by having their names attached to new faculty buildings.

And third, record-blazing stock market appreciation has had the positive effect of boosting what are often already substantial endowment funds.

Table 1: ConstructConnect's Elementary & Secondary School Construction Starts
United States ($ volumes are in billions USD)
Annual Average Average Y/Y    
$ Volume  % Change    
Previous 6 Years Previous 6 Years     2016 2016 versus 
(2010 to 2015) (2010 to 2015)     $ Volume  2015 (Y/Y)
   
Connecticut $0.644 14.0%     $0.485 -47.1%
Maine $0.092 2.9%     $0.125 71.9%
Massachusetts $1.289 5.2%     $1.290 11.8%
New Hampshire $0.128 38.8%     $0.230 17.9%
Rhode Island $0.063 87.8%     $0.162 252.4%
Vermont $0.035 26.1%     $0.048 19.7%
Total New England $2.250   3.6%     $2.340   -3.5%
New Jersey $0.794 13.2%     $1.339 15.5%
New York $2.850 1.5%     $3.118 -5.9%
Pennsylvania $1.227 -6.2%     $1.097 19.5%
Total Middle Atlantic $4.871   -0.5%     $5.554   3.0%
TOTAL NORTHEAST $7.121   0.0%     $7.894   1.0%
Illinois $1.287 -0.7%     $1.294 -0.5%
Indiana $0.485 -6.5%     $0.564 45.6%
Michigan $0.989 10.2%     $0.978 -23.0%
Ohio $1.170 -0.1%     $1.209 13.8%
Wisconsin $0.390 8.4%     $0.517 -6.1%
Total East North Central $4.322   -0.6%     $4.563   -0.2%
Iowa $0.531 6.6%     $0.533 16.4%
Kansas $0.455 12.5%     $0.464 -41.5%
Minnesota $0.561 21.0%     $1.196 14.5%
Missouri $0.586 16.4%     $0.678 -4.1%
Nebraska $0.291 20.1%     $0.500 0.5%
North Dakota $0.192 82.8%     $0.135 -55.8%
South Dakota $0.139 19.3%     $0.058 -61.7%
Total West North Central $2.755   10.8%     $3.565   -9.9%
TOTAL MIDWEST $7.077   3.3%     $8.128   -4.7%
Delaware $0.122 21.4%     $0.141 36.7%
District of Columbia $0.205 47.4%     $0.044 -59.7%
Florida $0.926 -6.6%     $1.199 27.0%
Georgia $1.061 -3.8%     $1.761 69.9%
Maryland $0.689 -6.5%     $1.023 175.0%
North Carolina $0.711 4.2%     $1.152 52.5%
South Carolina $0.543 2.1%     $0.635 -4.9%
Virginia $0.944 -1.3%     $0.906 14.5%
West Virginia $0.217 11.7%     $0.095 -39.0%
Total South Atlantic $5.419   -5.2%     $6.957   40.9%
Alabama $0.440 4.2%     $0.569 3.8%
Kentucky $0.519 5.1%     $0.494 -15.8%
Mississippi $0.153 5.7%     $0.308 82.4%
Tennessee $0.573 5.1%     $0.595 6.3%
Total East South Central $1.685   2.7%     $1.966   5.5%
Arkansas $0.422 -6.3%     $0.418 24.5%
Louisiana $0.545 7.3%     $0.507 -4.9%
Oklahoma $0.612 1.1%     $0.685 75.2%
Texas $4.832 3.8%     $7.564 10.5%
Total West South Central $6.412   0.9%     $9.173   13.2%
TOTAL SOUTH $13.516   -1.9%     $18.096   21.4%
Arizona $0.339 37.6%     $0.162 -22.2%
Colorado $0.427 8.8%     $0.435 -25.4%
Idaho $0.118 23.5%     $0.235 -11.4%
Montana $0.067 31.1%     $0.198 89.9%
Nevada $0.152 28.8%     $0.151 -7.7%
New Mexico $0.354 11.0%     $0.314 -34.0%
Utah $0.517 19.7%     $0.662 12.3%
Wyoming $0.231 41.7%     $0.118 -61.9%
Total Mountain $2.206   8.1%     $2.275   -15.7%
Alaska $0.200 31.8%     $0.093 -64.6%
California $3.743 -3.6%     $3.913 41.2%
Hawaii $0.113 21.6%     $0.275 251.6%
Oregon $0.355 27.5%     $1.063 77.4%
Washington $0.988 19.5%     $1.247 -16.4%
Total Pacific $5.400   1.5%     $6.591   26.7%
TOTAL WEST $7.605   3.3%     $8.866   12.2%
TOTAL U.S. $35.319   0.2%     $42.985   9.8%
Data source: ConstructConnect Insight.
Table: ConstructConnect.
Table 2: ConstructConnect's College & University School Construction Starts
United States ($ volumes are in billions USD)
Annual Average Average Y/Y    
$ Volume  % Change    
Previous 6 Years Previous 6 Years     2016 2016 versus 
(2010 to 2015) (2010 to 2015)     $ Volume  2015 (Y/Y)
   
Connecticut $0.412 145.9%     $0.170 -44.6%
Maine $0.038 37.2%     $0.042 9.2%
Massachusetts $0.526 47.7%     $0.625 -19.8%
New Hampshire $0.039 36.6%     $0.121 163.8%
Rhode Island $0.105 168.1%     $0.022 -93.0%
Vermont $0.039 230.3%     $0.011 -91.0%
Total New England $1.158   17.8%     $0.990   -38.1%
New Jersey $0.478 20.8%     $0.313 -36.4%
New York $1.508 31.9%     $1.307 35.4%
Pennsylvania $0.688 18.1%     $0.752 -25.8%
Total Middle Atlantic $2.674   14.2%     $2.372   -4.0%
TOTAL NORTHEAST $3.832   10.4%     $3.362   -17.4%
Illinois $0.687 40.6%     $0.450 -59.8%
Indiana $0.297 28.4%     $0.560 27.4%
Michigan $0.354 5.1%     $0.426 36.2%
Ohio $0.614 44.0%     $0.750 8.4%
Wisconsin $0.323 2.1%     $0.296 -5.1%
Total East North Central $2.274   13.2%     $2.482   -13.7%
Iowa $0.230 24.7%     $0.361 72.5%
Kansas $0.218 31.3%     $0.413 32.4%
Minnesota $0.246 9.7%     $0.199 11.7%
Missouri $0.355 22.0%     $0.480 35.5%
Nebraska $0.101 31.9%     $0.241 97.2%
North Dakota $0.061 28.8%     $0.040 -2.9%
South Dakota $0.079 16.7%     $0.049 -51.5%
Total West North Central $1.292   12.8%     $1.784   35.2%
TOTAL MIDWEST $3.566   11.0%     $4.266   1.7%
Delaware $0.036 328.0%     $0.009 -6.3%
District of Columbia $0.069 55.1%     $0.020 29.6%
Florida $0.397 4.7%     $0.620 84.0%
Georgia $0.448 0.9%     $0.527 26.8%
Maryland $0.511 18.8%     $0.483 -32.2%
North Carolina $0.610 19.2%     $0.943 13.7%
South Carolina $0.311 39.6%     $0.198 -43.0%
Virginia $0.473 6.3%     $0.598 89.9%
West Virginia $0.121 40.5%     $0.051 -33.1%
Total South Atlantic $2.976   8.2%     $3.448   12.7%
Alabama $0.334 14.6%     $0.342 16.7%
Kentucky $0.214 25.7%     $0.660 114.0%
Mississippi $0.181 22.6%     $0.125 -61.2%
Tennessee $0.300 25.4%     $0.238 -59.3%
Total East South Central $1.029   14.5%     $1.366   -9.6%
Arkansas $0.174 9.7%     $0.086 -50.9%
Louisiana $0.202 6.0%     $0.248 24.7%
Oklahoma $0.181 28.7%     $0.288 -7.5%
Texas $1.601 8.1%     $3.392 65.5%
Total West South Central $2.158   7.9%     $4.015   46.7%
TOTAL SOUTH $6.163   8.2%     $8.828   20.9%
Arizona $0.189 66.3%     $0.065 -65.4%
Colorado $0.255 34.1%     $0.439 39.4%
Idaho $0.066 33.8%     $0.031 -65.9%
Montana $0.053 73.7%     $0.029 -81.9%
Nevada $0.075 330.6%     $0.046 117.5%
New Mexico $0.071 96.0%     $0.175 9.0%
Utah $0.189 29.3%     $0.421 92.0%
Wyoming $0.065 77.5%     $0.062 -60.6%
Total Mountain $0.963   17.3%     $1.268   -3.3%
Alaska $0.076 79.9%     $0.088 455.3%
California $2.277 13.3%     $2.893 29.2%
Hawaii $0.130 18.3%     $0.157 293.5%
Oregon $0.278 96.4%     $0.428 38.7%
Washington $0.372 8.5%     $0.419 22.6%
Total Pacific $3.133   9.8%     $3.986   35.3%
TOTAL WEST $4.095   8.1%     $5.254   23.4%
TOTAL U.S. $17.657   8.1%     $21.710   9.5%
Data source: ConstructConnect Insight.
Table: ConstructConnect.