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Economy in Brief

U.S. Construction Spending Down for Fifth Month This Year 
by Tom Moeller August 1, 2005

The June value of construction put in place fell 0.3% following a deepened decline in May. June was the fifth monthly drop this year. Consensus expectations had been for a 0.7% increase.

The 2005 declines in construction spending generally have been moderate especially when set against a 7.5% upward spike in February.

Private residential building activity added to earlier month's declines with a 0.4% dip but remained up 9.1% versus last year. A 12.2% pop in February was driven by improvements. The value of new single family building rose 0.2% (7.6% y/y) for the seventh consecutive monthly gain.

Nonresidential building rose 0.2% following the downwardly revised 2.1% May decline. Multi-retail building was quite strong, up 2.3% (22.1% y/y), led by shopping mall construction which rose 15.8% (-7.2% y/y).

Public construction spending dipped 0.5% after an upwardly revised 3.2% May gain. Construction activity on highways & streets, nearly one third of the value of public construction spending, dipped 0.4% (+8.6% 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 June May Y/Y 2004 2003 2002
Total -0.3% -1.7% 7.9% 11.1% 5.4% 1.0%
Private -0.2% -3.1% 8.1% 13.8% 6.3% -0.4%
  Residential -0.4% -3.4% 9.1% 18.5% 12.9% 8.5%
  Nonresidential 0.2% -2.1% 5.6% 3.9% -5.4% -13.0%
Public -0.5% 3.2% 7.2% 2.5% 2.7% 5.7%
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