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Economy in Brief

U.S. Construction Spending Recovers in December
by Carol Stone  February 2, 2012

Construction put-in-place gained 0.9% in December after a minuscule 0.1% rise in November, when activity was restrained following Hurricane Sandy. The November amount was revised upward from a 0.3% fall reported before, and October was revised markedly higher from 0.7% to 1.6% in this report. The December figure is modestly stronger than consensus forecasts of 0.7%.

The rebound was entirely in private construction sectors. Private residential building went up 2.2% in December after a 0.6% rise in November. This put December a substantial 23.6% above the year earlier and put 2012 as a whole up 15.9% from 2011. And the strength here was in multi-family housing construction, with a 6.2% m/m surge after a 1.8% gain in November. Single-family building was hardly weak, though, with an 0.8% m/m gain in December, but this is extending a slower trend that had November's rise at 1.5% and October at 3.8%. Recent firming of single-family starts may support higher amounts in coming months, however. Private nonresidential construction rebounded by 1.8% in December after falling 0.3% in November. It was 7.6% above December 2011 and the year 2012 was up 16.0% from 2011. In December, lodging, offices, education, power and manufacturing categories all contributed to the upturn.

Public construction weakened in December. It fell 1.4%, after a 0.1% decrease in November. The latest month was 5.6% below the year-earlier month and 2012 was down 3.0% from 2011. State and local construction, by far the larger segment, is continuing to ratchet lower, with a 1.7% decline in December after a modest 0.4% increase in November. December was down 4.3% from a year ago and the year was off 1.5% from 2011. Federal spending gained in December by 1.3%, but earlier drops put it down 16.5% from the year before and 2012 down 15.8% from 2011.

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


Construction Put in Place (%)
Dec Nov Oct Y/Y 2012 2011 2010
Total 0.9 0.1 1.6 7.8 9.1 -3.1 -11.2
 Private 2.0 0.2 2.5 15.0 16.0 -1.1 -15.2
  Residential 2.2 0.6 3.2 23.6 15.9 -1.0 -2.9
  Nonresidential 1.8 -0.3 1.7 7.6 16.0 -1.3 24.0
 Public -1.4 -0.1 -0.2 -5.6 -3.0 -6.4 -3.6
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