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Economy in Brief

U.S. Construction Spending Stabilizes
by Tom Moeller  May 1, 2012

The value of construction put-in-place ticked 0.1% higher during March following a 1.4% February decline, initially reported as -1.1%. Consensus expectations had been for a 0.4% rise. Private sector spending increased 0.7% (11.5% y/y) after a downwardly revised 1.9% February drop. Residential building continued to recover and notched up 0.7% (7.4% y/y). Single-family construction increased 3.8% (10.3% y/y) but multi-family building fell 3.1% (+23.3% y/y). The value of spending on improvements fell 1.9% (+2.6% y/y), the fourth consecutive monthly drop. In the public sector, building activity was off 1.1% (-3.2% y/y) as budget cutbacks caused widespread weakness. Spending on highway & streets fell 0.8% (-0.5% y/y) while office building dropped 1.2% (-8.9% y/y). Educational building dropped 1.2% (-2.7% y/y) and transportation was unchanged (-11.1% y/y).

The construction spending figures are in Haver's USECON database and the expectations figure is contained in the AS1REPNA database.

Construction Put in Place (%) Mar Feb Jan Y/Y 2011 2010 2009
Total 0.1 -1.4 -0.7 6.0 -1.7 -11.3 -15.3
 Private 0.7 -1.9 -0.0 11.5 0.9 -15.2 -22.4
  Residential 0.7 -2.2 0.5 7.4 -0.8 -2.9 -29.9
  Nonresidential 0.7 -1.7 -0.5 15.2 2.6 -24.0 -16.0
 Public -1.1 -0.3 -2.1 -3.2 -6.1 -3.9 2.1
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