At a seasonably adjusted rate of 4512.8 billion, the value of new construction starts in Feb. increased 1 percent compared to the previous month, according to the F.W. Dodge Division of The McGraw-Hill Companies. Greater contracting was reported for nonresidential building and public works, outweighing a moderate decline for single family housing.

February's data lifted the Dodge Index to 154 (1996=100), slightly above a revised 153 for January. The Dodge Index had settled back to 146 at the close of 2001, after reaching a peak of 155 earlier in the year.

Nonresidential building grew five percent to $169.8 billion, nonbuilding construction increased 12 percent to $109.2 billion, while residential building fell six percent to $233.8 billion.

During the first two months of 2002, total construction on an unadjusted basis was up 2 percent versus the same period a year ago. Residential and nonbuilding construction showed respective gains of 11 percent and five percent, but nonresidential building was down 11 percent compared to 2001.