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Economy in Brief

U.S. Construction Rose
by Tom Moeller April 3, 2006

After a lackluster performance during January, the February value of construction put in place rose 0.8%, double the upwardly revised gain the prior month. Consensus expectations had been for a 0.5% increase.

Residential building surged 1.3% after an unrevised 0.1% January up tick. New single family building ballooned 1.3% (14.0% y/y) and the value of improvements rose 1.9% (-10.2% y/y), recovering all of the prior month's decline.

Your House Just Doubled in Value? Don't Uncork the Champagne Just Yet! from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia is available here.

Nonresidential building gained 0.8%. Office construction jumped again, by 1.5% (16.1% y/y), and the previously reported slip during January was revised to an increase of 2.1%. Commercial building, however, fell 2.1% (+11.2% y/y) following much strength during the final nine months of 2005.

Public construction spending slipped 0.5%. Construction activity on highways & streets, nearly one third of the value of public construction spending, rose a modest 0.7% (3.8% 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 Feb Jan Y/Y 2005 2004 2003
Total 0.8% 0.4% 7.4% 9.2% 10.9% 5.4%
Private 1.2% 0.4% 7.8% 9.7% 13.6% 6.3%
  Residential 1.3% 0.1% 7.1% 11.5% 18.2% 12.9%
  Nonresidential 0.8% 1.2% 9.6% 5.4% 3.9% -5.4%
Public -0.5% 0.6% 6.0% 7.6% 2.5% 2.7%
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