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Economy in Brief

U.S. Construction Spending Falls in January
by Carol Stone, CBE  March 1, 2017

The value of construction put-in-place fell 1.0% in January (+3.1% y/y). This decline did follow upward revisions to December and November, with December now up 0.1% versus -0.2% reported initially, and November up 1.5%, revised from 0.9%. The latest decline compares to expectations in the Action Economics Forecast Survey for a 0.5% increase.

Private sector construction activity increased 0.2% (7.3% y/y) in January after December's 0.5% rise. Residential building grew 0.5% (5.9% y/y) after a 0.7% gain. Multi-family building gained 2.2% (9.0% y/y) after a 0.9% rise. Single-family building was up 1.1% (2.3% y/y) following an 0.8% increase. The value of improvements fell 1.0% (+10.8% y/y) after a 0.4% rise in December. Nonresidential building activity was unchanged in January (+8.9% y/y) following a 0.3% increase. Office construction decreased 0.5% (33.9% y/y), as did commercial construction (11.9% y/y); both had been up markedly in December, offices by 1.7% and commercial, 2.0%. Manufacturing sector construction basically stabilized with a 0.6% rise (-6.8% y/y) after December's 5.3% drop. Power plant construction increased 1.4% (+5.8% y/y) following a 2.1% rise in December.

Public sector building activity dropped 5.0% in January (-9.0% y/y) after a 1.4% decrease in December. Declines were widespread. Among the largest categories, educational facility spending was down 2.7% (+1.8% y/y) after a 0.9% decrease in December. Transportation facilities building declined 8.1% (-11.7% y/y), following a modest 0.5% rise in December. And highways and streets, about one-third of total public construction, was down 3.3% in the latest month (-10.1% y/y) after December's 2.7% decline.

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

Construction Put in Place (SA, %) Jan Dec Nov Jan Y/Y 2016 2015 2014
Total -1.0 0.1 1.5 3.1 4.9 10.3 11.4
  Private 0.2 0.5 2.1 7.3 6.7 12.5 15.4
    Residential 0.5 0.7 2.5 5.9 5.6 16.8 14.6
    Nonresidential -0.0 0.3 1.7 8.9 7.9 8.1 16.3
  Public -5.0 -1.4 -0.3 -9.0 -0.4 4.5 1.9
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