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Economy in Brief

U.S. Construction Spending Slips
by Tom Moeller  May 1, 2017

The value of construction put-in-place eased 0.2% (+3.6% y/y) in March following 1.8% and 0.8% increases during February & January. These latter two figures were revised up from 0.8% and -0.4%, respectively. The latest figure compares to expectations for a 0.4% rise in the Action Economics Forecast Survey.

Private sector construction activity remained unchanged (7.0% y/y) following increases of roughly 1.7% during the prior two months.

Residential building rose 1.2% (7.5% y/y) after five months of strong gains. Multi-family building increased 2.0% (7.4% y/y) in the wake of two months of even stronger gain. Single-family building improved 0.3% (4.7% y/y) following four months of strong increase. The value of improvements increased 2.2% (11.8% y/y).

Nonresidential building activity fell 1.3% (+6.4% y/y), after two months of strong increase. Office construction declined 2.6% (+17.7% y/y), while commercial construction fell 3.2% (+12.7% y/y). These declines contrast to strength from 2011 to 2016. Manufacturing sector construction improved 0.5% (-9.8% y/y) and health care building rose 1.5% (-1.0% y/y). Power plant construction eased 0.6% (+8.2% y/y) after a 3.3% rise.

Public sector building activity declined 0.9% (-6.5% y/y) following a 2.3% increase. Educational facility spending declined 2.0% (-2.6% y/y). Transportation facilities building was off 4.0% (-13.7% y/y) and office building fell 1.8% (+1.3% y/y). Highways and streets, about one-third of total public construction, improved 0.5% (-2.4% y/y) after February's 3.8% jump.

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, %) Mar Feb Jan Mar Y/Y 2016 2015 2014
Total -0.2 1.8 0.8 3.6 4.8 10.3 11.4
  Private 0.0 1.7 1.6 7.0 6.7 12.5 15.4
    Residential 1.2 2.5 2.1 7.5 5.6 16.8 14.6
    Nonresidential -1.3 0.8 1.1 6.4 7.8 8.1 16.3
  Public -0.9 2.3 -1.7 -6.5 -0.5 4.5 1.9
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