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Economy in Brief

U.S. Construction Spending Declines Again
by Tom Moeller  December 2, 2019

The value of construction put-in-place fell 0.8% (+1.1% y/y) during October following a 0.3% September decline, revised from +0.5%. August's 1.1% increase was revised from -0.3%. A 0.4% October rise had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey.

Private construction declined 1.0% (-1.8% y/y) after falling 1.1% in September. Residential building activity fell 0.9% (+0.5% y/y). A 4.5% decline (+8.2% y/y) in home improvements dragged residential building activity lower. It followed a 4.7% September drop, Single-family building increased 1.6% (-3.1% y/y) while multi-family construction fell 1.6% (-2.1% y/y), down significantly for the third straight month.

Nonresidential construction declined 1.2% (-4.3% y/y) with commercial building off 2.4% (-17.7% y/y). Office building eased 0.2% (+1.0% y/y) while communication construction fell 1.9% (-3.2% y/y). Construction of power facilities declined 1.3% (+3.6% y/y).

Public construction eased 0.2% (+10.2% y/y) in October. Construction of highways and streets, the largest category accounting for nearly one-third of public sector building activity, declined 2.2% (+8.4% y/y). Education construction, the second largest category, rose 2.5% (9.8% y/y). Office building improved 0.8% (16.5% y/y), but transportation building eased 0.6% (+13.0% 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, %) Oct Sep Aug Oct Y/Y 2018 2017 2016
Total -0.8 -0.3 1.1 1.1 3.3 4.5 7.1
  Private -1.0 -1.1 1.5 -1.8 3.2 6.0 9.3
    Residential -0.9 -1.1 2.7 0.5 2.8 12.4 10.6
    Nonresidential -1.2 -1.0 0.0 -4.3 3.7 -0.7 7.9
  Public -0.2 1.9 0.2 10.2 3.6 -0.1 1.1
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