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BURBANK, CA-California’s statewide construction activity slipped in June, the first misstep since building began a comeback in the early part of the year, but the dip was small and “not totally unexpected,” according to the Construction Industry Research Board.

The Burbank-based nonprofit industry research group says the total of all types of public and private construction in California totaled $6.2 billion in June, down 1.2%, after five consecutive months in which construction increased in comparison to the same month the previous year. The numbers are all relative, of course, because “even in the months when construction totals increased this year” they still lagged far behind the numbers for the peak year of 2000.

Regarding the dip in June, the CIRB says, “a good portion of the decline can be traced to the economic uncertainties.”

Total construction value of commercial building in June totaled $1.22 billion, down 2.9% from May and down 9.1% from June 2002. Along with the drop in building volume in June came a drop in the dollar volume of major projects. The volume of the largest private commercial building project for June was only $106.7 million, down from $235.3 million in May and from $370.1 million in June 2002.

However, the CIRB says, year-to-date totals “continue to paint a bright picture though a confusing statistical picture.” Basically, the CIRB says, residential building has increased far more this year to date than commercial building has decreased. Residential construction is up by more than $3.38 billion, the group says, while commercial building is down $374.7 million.

For the month of June all construction sectors were down except for heavy (civil works) construction. A $177.9 million freeway and bridge project in San Francisco helped boost heavy construction in June by 25.4%. Ben Bartolotto, director of the CIRB, believes public works construction can still benefit in the second half of 2003 from state and local bond issues approved by voters in 2002 for schools, state universities and water projects. However, fiscal constraints at all levels of government may result in a net decline in total public works construction when the totals for the full year are tallied at the end of 2003, he says.

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