The Dodge Momentum Index fell 3% in December to 166.4 (2000=100), down from the revised November reading of 170.7. The Momentum Index, issued by Dodge Construction Network, is a monthly measure of the initial report for nonresidential building projects in planning, which have been shown to lead construction spending for nonresidential buildings by a full year. In December, commercial planning fell 4%, and institutional planning slipped 1%.

Despite these declines, 2021 was a banner year for the Dodge Momentum Index — despite the lingering risks of COVID-19 and low demand for some types of nonresidential buildings. Throughout the year, the overall Momentum Index increased 23%, the strongest annual gain since 2005. Both the commercial and institutional components of the Momentum Index saw similar gains — with their levels of activity reaching 13- and 14-year highs, respectively.

A total of 21 projects with a value of $100 million or more entered planning in December. The leading commercial projects were the $300 million OKANA Resort in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and the $200 million Project Tarpon Amazon distribution center in Daytona Beach, Florida. The leading institutional projects were the $250 million University of Michigan Detroit Center for Innovation in Detroit, Michigan, and a $150 million laboratory in Lexington, Massachusetts.

The signals provided by the Dodge Momentum Index continue to suggest that construction activity will improve in 2022 — and, more importantly, that this growth will be more balanced than what was seen in 2021. However, the ever-present risks of the pandemic and tight labor force will work to counter these trends, leading to moderate growth over the new year.