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Economy in Brief

U.S. Construction Spending Remains Weak
by Tom Moeller  June 2, 2011

Reported yesterday, the value of construction spending rose 0.4% during April following a 0.1% uptick in March, revised down from a 1.4% gain reported last month. Consensus expectations as indicated by Action Economics called for a 0.3% monthly gain.

The rise in construction last month was led by a 1.7% gain in private sector building. That increase reflected a 3.1% jump in residential building but the prior month was revised down sharply. Volatility in improvements has been most extreme. First off, it rose 7.6% in April (-12.0% y/y) but the March decline of 0.1% was revised down from a 6.9% rise reported initially. Single-family construction fell 1.0% in April (-12.8% y/y) after similar declines during the prior two months. Multi-family building slipped 0.1% (-7.6% y/y).

Nonresidential construction activity ticked up 0.5% in April led by a 3.9% gain in education (-6.1% y/y), a 2.7% (-16.2% y/y) rise in amusements & recreation and a 0.8% rise in health care (-1.5% y/y). Commercial building fell 1.3% (-9.2% y/y).

Public construction activity fell 1.9% (-7.5% y/y), the seventh consecutive down month. Highways and streets building fell 1.6% (-5.6% y/y).

The construction put-in-place figures are available in Haver's USECON database. The expectations figure is contained in Haver's AS1REPNA database.

Construction Put in Place (%) Apr Mar Feb Y/Y 2010 2009 2008
Total 0.4 0.1 -2.0 -9.3 -10.4 -14.9 -7.5
Private 1.7 0.4 -1.5 -10.3 -14.3 -21.9 -12.2
   Residential 3.1 -0.7 -5.4 -12.1 -1.4 -29.9 -29.0
   Nonresidential 0.5 1.4 2.4 -8.5 -23.4 -15.0 10.5
Public -1.9 -0.4 -2.8 -7.5 -3.1 2.2 6.6
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