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Economy in Brief

U.S. Construction Spending Led By Residential 
by Tom Moeller May 2, 2005

The total value of construction put in place rose 0.5% in March for the second month. Consensus expectations had been for a 0.3% gain.

Private residential building activity rose 0.3% following an upwardly revised 1.1% increase in February. The value of new single family building added 0.5% (13.2% y/y) to increases during the prior three months which ranged between 1.0% & 2.0%.

Nonresidential building recovered most of the prior month's decline as office building again was strong and rose 2.6% (5.6% y/y). Manufacturing building surged 11.3% (38.1% y/y) following two months of decline.

Public construction rose 0.3% following a downwardly revised gain in February. Spending on highways & streets, nearly one third of the value of public construction spending, slipped 0.4% (+2.1% y/y) following strong gains during the prior five months.

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 Mar Feb Y/Y 2004 2003 2002
Total 0.5% 0.5% 8.0% 8.9% 5.1% 1.5%
Private 0.5% 0.4% 10.4% 10.7% 6.0% -0.2%
  Residential 0.3% 1.1% 12.1% 13.9% 13.1% 8.4%
  Nonresidential 1.1% -1.4% 6.3% 3.7% -7.1% -12.8%
Public 0.3% 0.7% 0.5% 3.3% 2.6% 7.0%
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