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Economy in Brief

U.S. Construction Again Firm
by Tom Moeller May 1, 2006

The March value of construction put in place increased another 0.9% on top of the 1.0% rise during February and for the second month, the gain was double the Consensus expectation for a 0.4% increase.

Residential building jumped 1.6% after an unrevised 1.3% February surge. Strength was most pronounced in the value of improvements which jumped 4.5% (-7.0% y/y) while new single family building rose 0.5% (13.5% y/y).

Nonresidential building fell 0.1%, the first decline since last October, and it was led by a 1.7% (+11.2% y/y) drop in office construction. Commercial building rose 0.6% (8.7% y/y) after a huge 3.3% February drop.

Public construction spending rose 0.2% for the second month though construction activity on highways & streets, nearly one third of the value of public construction spending, slipped 0.4% (4.9% 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 Mar Feb Y/Y 2005 2004 2003
Total 0.9% 1.0% 8.4% 9.2% 10.9% 5.4%
Private 1.1% 1.2% 8.9% 9.7% 13.6% 6.3%
  Residential 1.6% 1.3% 8.6% 11.5% 18.2% 12.9%
  Nonresidential -0.1% 1.1% 9.6% 5.4% 3.9% -5.4%
Public 0.2% 0.2% 6.6% 7.6% 2.5% 2.7%
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