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Economy in Brief

U.S. Construction Activity Eases
by Tom Moeller  February 1, 2017

The value of construction put-in-place slipped 0.2% during December following an unrevised 0.9% November increase. Construction was up 4.2% y/y following stronger growth from 2012 through 2015. The latest decline disappointed expectations for a 0.2% increase in the Action Economics Forecast Survey.

Private sector construction activity improved 0.2% (6.3% y/y) after a 1.0% November jump. Residential building increased 0.5% (3.7% y/y) after a 1.1% gain. Multi-family building strengthened 2.8% (11.7% y/y) after a 0.8% dip. Single-family building activity increased 0.5% (0.3% y/y) following a 2.1% jump. The value of improvements eased 0.6% (+6.6% y/y) following two months of 0.3% growth. Nonresidential building activity remained unchanged (+9.2% y/y) following a 0.8% increase. Office building increased 2.0% (35.3% y/y), while commercial construction gained 0.7% (12.3% y/y). To the downside, factory sector building fell 3.5% (-5.9% y/y) and educational constructions was off 2.1% (+18.9% y/y).

Public sector building activity declined 1.7% (-1.8% y/y), the first decline since July. Power plant construction declined 4.4% (-27.5% y/y). Commercial construction weakened 1.1% (+5.2% y/y), and education facility activity declined 2.2% (+1.5% y/y). Highway & street construction, which is roughly one-third of the public sector total, eased 0.6% (+1.5% y/y).

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

Construction Put in Place (SA, %) Dec Nov Oct Dec Y/Y 2016 2015 2014
Total -0.2 0.9 0.8 4.2 4.7 10.3 11.4
  Private 0.2 1.0 0.3 6.3 6.5 12.5 15.4
    Residential 0.5 1.1 1.9 3.7 5.4 16.8 14.6
    Nonresidential -0.0 0.8 -1.4 9.2 7.7 8.1 16.3
  Public -1.7 0.7 2.4 -1.8 -0.2 4.5 1.9
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