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Economy in Brief

U.S. Construction Spending Increases; Public Sector Building Strengthens Again
by Tom Moeller  April 1, 2019

The value of construction put-in-place increased 1.0% (1.1% y/y) during February following a 2.5% January increase, revised from 1.3%. A 0.1% easing had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey.

The value of public construction jumped 3.6% (11.5% y/y), after an outsized 5.7% rise in January. It was powered by a 9.5% surge (22.8% y/y) in highway & street construction, which accounts for roughly one-third of public sector spending. Public safety construction rose 3.1% (4.6% y/y), but health care building declined 7.0% (-5.3% y/y). Educational facility construction was little-changed (5.5% y/y). Water supply construction gained 5.2% (11.4% y/y).

The value of private construction activity rose 0.2% (-1.9% y/y). Residential building rose 0.7% (-3.4% y/y) but single-family construction dropped 1.1% (-7.1% y/y). Multi-family construction eased 0.4% (+7.5% y/y) after five months of strong increase. The value of improvements strengthened 3.6% (-1.5% y/y). Nonresidential building activity weakened 0.5% (+0.1% y/y) after two months of improvement. Office construction slipped 0.4% (4.8% y/y) and commercial construction weakened 0.8% (-6.6% y/y). Factory sector building rose 0.9% (3.4% 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, %) Feb Jan Dec Feb Y/Y 2018 2017 2016
Total 1.0 2.5 0.2 1.1 3.8 4.5 7.0
  Private 0.2 1.5 0.8 -1.9 3.1 7.1 9.2
    Residential 0.7 1.8 0.9 -3.4 2.8 12.4 10.7
    Nonresidential -0.5 1.1 0.6 0.1 3.4 1.3 7.7
  Public 3.6 5.7 -1.6 11.5 6.4 -3.2 0.7
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