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Economy in Brief

U.S. Construction Spending Up 
by Tom Moeller March 1, 2005

The total value of construction put in place rose another 0.7% in January. Revised figures indicate consistent gains throughout 2004. Consensus expectations had been for a 0.4% rise for January.

Private residential building activity rose 0.7% after an upwardly revised 1.2% rise in December. New single family building added 0.9% (11.8% y/y) to the 1.0% December gain.

Nonresidential building jumped 1.2% but the prior month's gain was lessened. The gain was led by large m/m increases in shopping centers (+40.5% y/y) and malls (+4.8% y/y).

Public construction rose 0.8%. Spending on residential projects rose 2.6% (17.3% y/y) and highways & streets, nearly one third of the value of public construction spending, rose 4.4% (15.7% y/y).

These more detailed categories represent the Census Bureau’s reclassification of construction activity into end-use groups. Finer detail is available for many of the categories; for instance, commercial construction is shown for Automotive sales and parking facilities, drugstores, building supply stores, and both commercial warehouses and mini-storage facilities. Note that start dates vary for some seasonally adjusted line items in 2000 and 2002 and that constant-dollar data are no longer computed.

Construction Put-in-place Jan Dec Y/Y 2004 2003 2002
Total 0.7% 1.2% 10.6% 8.9% 5.1% 1.5%
Private 0.6% 1.2% 11.3% 10.7% 6.0% -0.2%
  Residential 0.4% 1.5% 11.8% 13.8% 13.1% 8.4%
  Nonresidential 1.2% 0.3% 10.1% 3.7% -7.1% -12.8%
Public 0.8% 1.5% 8.5% 3.4% 2.6% 7.0%
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