SOUTH PORTLAND — Wright Express Corp. announced the launch Tuesday of its Construction Fuel Consumption Index, which measures and tracks the fuel use of the U.S. construction industry.

Produced in partnership with IHS Consulting & Advisory Services, the monthly index is compiled using data from more than 180,000 Wright Express fuel and automotive maintenance clients. The primary business of Wright Express is processing gasoline and diesel fuel purchase transactions for commercial vehicle fleets.

A news release said the index can indicate emerging trends in the construction industry and the national economy.

“The Wright Express Construction Fuel Consumption Index, through our partnership with IHS, taps into our deep well of fuel consumption data for real-time analysis,” said Wright Express Chairman and CEO Michael Dubyak in a prepared statement. “Each month we plan to release statistics that could be an aid in providing insights around current construction activity and the overall economic landscape.”

The first report, issued this week, showed construction industry growth of 1.1 percent from July to August, and growth of 3.9 percent over August 2010.

The news release said an analysis of the data by IHS determined that the results are positive news for an industry that continues to struggle.

“This month’s result should be regarded with caution, as the construction market remains fragile and the recovery will be slow. U.S. construction activity is not expected to really pick up until 2012,” said the release. “The residential construction category had been gathering its fundamentals to recover, but financial turmoil in August has deferred the recovery from early to later 2012.”