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Economy in Brief

U.S. Construction Spending Holds Steady
by Tom Moeller  November 1, 2018

The value of construction put-in-place was unchanged during September (7.2% y/y) following a 0.8% August rise, initially reported as 0.1%. A 0.2% increase had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey.

In the private sector, activity improved 0.3% (6.1% y/y) after a 0.4% August gain. Residential building activity increased 0.6% (5.1% y/y) following a 0.4% decline. Single-family construction fell 0.8% (+3.1% y/y), down for six months in the last seven. Multi-family construction rebounded 8.7% (8.2% y/y) after a 1.4% drop. Home improvement activity improved 0.1% (7.0% y/y) after a 0.2% rise.

Nonresidential construction in September edged 0.1% higher (7.2% y/y) after a 1.4% jump. The value of commercial building activity declined 1.8% (+4.9% y/y) after a 2.2% increase. Power facility construction fell 1.6% (+9.2% y/y) following a 0.3% improvement. Construction of educational buildings fell 1.5% (+24.7% y/y) after four months of material improvement. Strengthening by 1.6% (-0.2% y/y) was health care building after a 2.2% increase. The value of transportation building strengthened 1.4% (18.9% y/y) after a 1.0% improvement. Factory sector construction increased 1.1% (4.4% y/y) following a 3.0% increase. Office construction rose a steady 0.8% (13.4% y/y).

Construction activity in the public sector decreased 0.9% (+11.0% y/y) in September, third decline in four months. Power facility construction fell 6.1% (-1.1% y/y) as it followed a 2.4% increase. Highway and street building, which accounts for about one-third of nonresidential building, declined 1.1% (+8.6% y/y) following a 0.7% rise. Commercial construction rose 6.2% (21.7% y/y) after two months of sharp decline. Educational building gained 1.2% (9.9% y/y) following a 4.9% surge.

The construction spending figures, some of which date back to 1946 (e.g., public construction figures), are in Haver's USECON database and the expectations figure can be found in the AS1REPNA database.

Construction Put in Place (SA, %) Sep Aug Jul Sep Y/Y 2017 2016 2015
Total 0.0 0.8 0.2 7.2 4.5 7.0 10.7
  Private 0.3 0.4 0.3 6.1 7.1 9.2 12.9
    Residential 0.6 -0.4 0.7 5.1 12.4 10.7 14.2
    Nonresidential 0.1 1.4 -0.1 7.2 1.3 7.7 11.5
  Public -0.9 2.2 -0.1 11.0 -3.2 0.7 5.1
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