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Economy in Brief

U.S. Construction Spending Posts a Surprising Decline
by Tom Moeller  March 2, 2015

The value of construction put-in-place declined 1.1% during January (+1.8% y/y) following a 0.8% improvement, revised from 0.4%. A 0.3% rise had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. Private construction activity fell 0.5% (+0.5% y/y) following three straight months of 0.4% gain. Nonresidential building activity slumped 1.6% (+4.8% y/y). Commercial building fell 5.7% (+14.0% y/y) led down by a 6.3% drop (-1.4% y/y) in multi-retail construction. Buffering this decline, residential building improved 0.6% (-3.4% y/y) after a 0.7% rise. Multi-family construction jumped 1.9% (29.8% y/y) while single-family activity improved 0.6% (9.7% y/y). Improvements spending ticked 0.1% higher (-29.8% y/y).

Public sector building activity eased 2.6% (+5.1% y/y) following a 1.7% increase. Upward momentum in spending activity remained, however, in place. Nonresidential building fell 2.6% (+4.9% y/y) as commercial construction was off 8.0% (+13.3% y/y). Power construction fell 3.1% (-11.4% y/y) but highways and streets construction increased 0.6% (+8.4% y/y). Construction here amounts to 32% of public sector building activity.

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

Construction Put in Place (%) Jan Dec Nov Jan Y/Y 2014 2013 2012
Total -1.1 0.8 -0.6 1.8 6.1 5.7 9.2
  Private -0.5 0.4 0.4 0.5 8.0 10.1 16.0
    Residential 0.6 0.7 -0.3 -3.4 5.1 20.4 14.4
    Nonresidential -1.6 0.1 1.2 4.8 11.1 0.6 17.5
  Public -2.6 1.7 -3.2 5.1 1.6 -3.5 -2.8
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