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Economy in Brief

U.S. Construction Activity Increases Sharply
by Tom Moeller  March 1, 2016

The value of construction put-in-place increased 1.5% during January (9.5% y/y) after a 0.6% December gain, revised from 0.1%. It was the strongest rise since May, and exceeded the 0.5% increase expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. During the last three months, activity grew an average 0.5% per month.

Strength in public sector building led the January gain with a 4.5% jump (9.0% y/y), following a 3.3% December increase. During the last three months, activity grew an average 1.7%. Highway and street construction jumped 14.7% (31.7% y/y) while commercial construction surged 6.5% (63.1% y/y). Power construction rebounded 5.0% (-8.7% y/y), but health care building declined 5.0% (-1.9% y/y).

Building activity in the private sector increased 0.5% (9.7% y/y) following a 0.3% December decline. During the last three months, activity improved an average 1.7%. A 1.0% increase (11.3% y/y) in nonresidential building led the monthly increase. Residential building activity remained unchanged (8.0% y/y) after a 0.8% rise. Multi-family construction rose 2.6% (29.6% y/y) following a 2.7% increase. Single-family building eased 0.2% (+6.9% y/y) after a 0.9% rise. Spending on improvements fell 0.7% (+1.2% y/y), and has been declining for ten months.

The construction spending figures are in Haver's USECON database and the expectations figure is contained in the AS1REPNA database.

Construction Put in Place (SA, %) Jan Dec Nov Jan Y/Y 2015 2014 2013
Total 1.5 0.6 -0.5 9.5 10.5 9.6 6.6
  Private 0.5 -0.3 0.2 9.7 12.4 12.9 11.3
    Residential 0.0 0.8 1.2 8.0 12.8 14.4 19.9
    Nonresidential 1.0 -1.5 -0.9 11.3 11.9 11.3 3.6
  Public 4.5 3.3 -2.5 9.0 5.7 1.9 -3.1
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