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Economy in Brief

U.S. Construction Spending Steadies
by Tom Moeller  October 1, 2019

The value of construction put-in-place improved 0.1% (-1.9% y/y) during August following a little-revised stability in July. A 0.4% rise had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey.

Construction activity in the private sector was unchanged (-4.0% y/y) following four consecutive months of decline. Residential construction rose 0.9% (-5.0% y/y) after a 0.6% gain. Single-family building jumped 1.4% (-6.6% y/y) after a like increase in July. The value of home improvements rose 0.8% (-6.4% y/y) after a 0.5% slip. Multi-family construction declined 0.9% (+7.4% y/y), the fifth monthly decline this year.

Private nonresidential building activity declined 1.0% (-2.8% y/y) during August, down for the fourth month in the last five. Health care construction weakened 2.0% (+4.6% y/y). Transportation sector construction held steady (-1.5% y/y). Commercial building declined 2.8% (-13.0% y/y) and power construction was off 1.7% (-4.3% y/y). Office construction was little changed (6.2% y/y). To the up-side, factory sector building rose 0.5% (1.6% y/y).

Public sector building activity increased 0.4% during August (4.6% y/y) following a 1.4% increase. Construction of highways & streets rose 0.6% (4.1% y/y). It accounts for roughly one-third of the dollar value of public building activity. Transportation sector building eased 0.5 % (+8.9% y/y) for a second month while commercial construction declined 6.8% (23.6% y/y). Health care building improved 0.7% (-4.9% 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, %) Aug Jul Jun Aug Y/Y 2018 2017 2016
Total 0.1 0.0 -0.9 -1.9 3.1 4.6 7.3
  Private 0.0 -0.5 -0.4 -4.0 3.1 6.2 9.3
    Residential 0.9 0.6 -0.8 -5.0 2.8 12.5 10.8
    Nonresidential -1.0 -1.6 0.1 -2.8 3.4 -0.5 7.8
  Public 0.4 1.4 -2.6 4.6 3.3 -0.2 1.6
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