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Economy in Brief

U.S. Construction Spending Improves As Public Sector Strengthens
by Tom Moeller  March 13, 2019

The value of construction put-in-place increased 1.3% (0.3% y/y) during January following a 0.8% December decline, revised from -0.6%. November's figures were revised sharply downward. January's increase was the largest in nine months. A 0.6% rise had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey.

The value of public construction jumped 4.9% (8.0% y/y), the largest monthly rise since early-2004. It was powered by a 12.1% surge (26.3% y/y) in commercial building activity. Highway & street construction, which accounts for roughly one-third of public sector spending, rose 11.8% (12.7% y/y). Health care building gained 7.9% (-5.6% y/y) and educational facility construction rose 2.2% (8.1% y/y). Water supply construction fell 1.1% (+4.6% y/y).

The value of private construction activity rose 0.2% (-2.0% y/y). Residential building slipped 0.3% (-5.6% y/y) as single-family construction dropped 0.7% (-7.2% y/y). The value of improvements eased 0.3% (-8.8% y/y). Multi-family construction jumped 1.4% (12.8% y/y) after four months of strong increase. Nonresidential building activity improved 0.8% (2.4% y/y) after a 0.6% rise. Office construction strengthened 1.8% (7.6% y/y) and commercial construction improved 1.5% (-4.7% y/y). Factory sector building fell 1.0% (+3.7% y/y).

The construction spending figures, some of which date back to 1946, are in Haver's USECON database. The expectations reading can be found in the AS1REPNA database.

Construction Put in Place (SA, %) Jan Dec Nov Jan Y/Y 2018 2017 2016
Total 1.3 -0.8 -1.3 0.3 3.8 4.5 7.0
  Private 0.2 -0.7 -1.3 -2.0 3.0 7.1 9.2
    Residential -0.3 -1.9 -0.6 -5.6 2.7 12.4 10.7
    Nonresidential 0.8 0.6 -2.1 2.4 3.4 1.3 7.7
  Public 4.9 -1.0 -1.4 8.0 6.5 -3.2 0.7
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