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Economy in Brief

U.S. Construction Spending Improves
by Tom Moeller  November 1, 2011

Construction spending during September ticked up an expected 0.2% following a little-revised 1.6% August increase. However, the decline in July was revised deeper to -3.3% from -1.4%. Therefore, the y/y comparison remained negative although activity was 3.2% above the March low.

Private sector spending paced last month's increase with a 0.6% rise. Residential building rose 0.9% led by a 1.4% gain (-0.6% y/y) in the value of home-improvements. The value of single-family building rose 0.5% (-0.1% y/y), although its downward revision in July led most other components. Multi-family building ticked up 0.2% (6.5% y/y). Nonresidential building activity notched up 0.3% (7.4% y/y) with the y/y strength led by a one-quarter gain in power, a 16.8% rise in transportation and a 4.1% rise in manufacturing. Health care and amusements building fell y/y.

Public construction activity slipped 0.6% (-9.2% y/y) after its 3.5% August jump. Commercial (-5.2% m/m), public safety (-9.7% y/y), transportation (-19.2% y/y) and conservation & development (-5.8% y/y) each fell hard m/m. Higher office building (-18.6% y/y), amusements & recreation (-18.7% y/y), power (-11.5% y/y) and highways & streets (-6.3% y/y) offset the monthly drop.

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 (%) Sep Aug Jul Y/Y 2010 2009 2008
Total 0.2 1.6 -3.3 -1.3 -11.3 -15.3 -7.5
 Private 0.6 0.6 -3.9 3.9 -15.2 -22.4 -12.2
  Residential 0.9 0.4 -7.7 0.1 -2.9 -29.9 -29.0
  Nonresidential 0.3 0.8 -0.5 7.4 -24.0 -16.0 10.5
 Public -0.6 3.5 -2.2 -9.2 -3.9 2.1 6.6
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