Dodge Momentum Index Trips on COVID-19 in April

The Dodge Momentum Index moved 6% lower in April to 135.9 (the year 2000 = 100) from the revised March reading of 144.5. Both components of the Momentum Index pulled back during the month—the commercial component fell 7.6%, while the institutional component dropped 3.2%.

COVID-19 had a significant negative impact on the economy in April, touching virtually all sectors—including construction, according to Dodge. Planning activity clearly downshifted, although that downshift has not been fully realized in the published index since the Momentum Index is a three-month moving average. This sets the stage for an even weaker reading when the May data is released in June.

In April, six projects each with a value of $100 million or more entered planning. The leading commercial projects were a $380 million office building in San Jose, Calif., and the $100 million Dream Hotel in Las Vegas. The leading institutional projects were a $365 million medical building in Houston and the $100 million Harrisburg University Health Science Education Center in Harrisburg, Pa.

The Momentum Index, issued by Dodge Data & Analytics, 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.