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BUILDING ACTIVITY DECLINES 22% ON FRONTIER IN JUNE

The local construction market continued its three-month slump in June, as a plunge in housing starts more than offset a double-digit gain in commercial building activity, a trade group said Monday.

The F.W. Dodge Division of McGraw Hill Cos. said the total value of all construction contracts in Erie and Niagara counties fell by 22 percent last month to $57.6 million from $74 million the year before. It was the fourth decline in the first six months of this year.

All of the decline came from the housing market, which has been down for four straight months. The value of all residential construction contracts plummeted by 49 percent last month to $20.85 million from $40.73 million the year before.

That decline was too steep to be offset by a 10 percent rise in nonresidential construction, which increased to $36.77 million during June from $33.28 million a year ago.

Through the first half of this year, the value of all construction contracts fell by 11 percent to $299.9 million from $337 million a year earlier.

As it was during June, the culprit behind the sharp drop in the first half was the housing sector, which plunged by 25 percent to $139.7 million from $187.2 million the year before.

The nonresidential building market was up 7 percent in the first half to $160.2 million from $149.7 million a year ago.

The June weakness in the Niagara Frontier ran contrary to the solid increases that were booked statewide.

Nonresidential construction was up 33 percent to $654.5 million from $491.2 million. Residential building contracts were up 10 percent to $317.8 million from $288.7 million. And nonbuilding contracts, which covers a wide range of public works and utility projects, were up 25 percent to $480.9 million from $386.1 million a year ago.

For the first half of the year, the value of all construction contracts statewide fell by 4 percent to $6.6 billion from $6.9 billion a year ago.

Residential construction was up 13 percent to $2 billion from $1.7 billion, but those gains were offset by an 8 percent drop in nonresidential building activity, which fell to $2.7 billion from $3 billion the year before. The value of nonbuilding projects slid by 10 percent to $1.9 billion from $2.2 billion.

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