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Economy in Brief

U.S. Construction Spending Hurt More in Bad Winter; Modest Comeback in March
by Carol Stone  May 1, 2014

The value of construction put-in-place rose 0.2% in March (8.4% y/y). The severe winter weather was reflected in downward revisions to February and January, which both now show declines. January was changed from -0.2% to -0.4% and February from +0.1% to -0.2%. Consequently the three-month change is now -1.8% at an annual rate. The March figure also fell short of expectations in the Action Economics Consensus Survey, which looked for a recovery to a 0.7% monthly gain.

Private sector construction outlays did firm somewhat in March, increasing 0.5% (12.5% y/y), after a 0.2% decrease in February, which was revised from a 0.1% rise reported last month. Residential building now actually looks somewhat better, with an 0.8% gain in March (16.0% y/y) and an upward revision for February to no change from a drop of 0.8% reported before. Single-family homebuilding increased 0.2% in March (13.2% y/y) and was revised from a drop of 0.8% in February to -0.3%. Multi-family building rose 4.4% in March (32.5% y/y), and spending on improvements was up 0.6% (15.8% y/y). Nonresidential construction spending edged up 0.2% in March (8.6% y/y) after a marked downward revision in February to -0.5% from the +1.2% initially estimated; January was also lowered from a decline of 1.0% to -2.6%.

The value of public sector building activity continued a decline in March, down 0.6%, with the year-on-year move down 0.8%. February was revised from +0.1% to -0.1% and January from -1.3% to -1.6%.

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 2013 2012 2011
Total 0.2 -0.2 -0.4 8.4 5.7 8.1 -1.9
  Private 0.5 -0.2 0.0 12.5 9.8 14.4 0.2
    Residential 0.8 0.0 2.3 16.0 18.5 14.6 1.9
    Nonresidential 0.2 -0.5 -2.6 8.6 1.5 14.3 -1.4
  Public -0.6 -0.1 -1.6 -0.8 -2.8 -2.9 -5.4
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