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Economy in Brief

U.S. Construction Spending Is Little Changed in March
by Tom Moeller  May 2, 2022

• Residential construction firms, while nonresidential building weakens.

• Public sector construction softens.

The value of construction put-in-place edged 0.1% higher (11.7% y/y) in March following an unrevised 0.5% February gain, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. It was the weakest monthly increase since last July. A 0.8% increase had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey.

Private construction increased 0.2% (14.6% y/y) after rising 0.7% in February. Residential construction rose 1.0% (18.4% y/y) after a 0.7% rise. Single-family building grew 1.3% (19.4% y/y) following a 2.7% increase. Home improvement expenditures rose 1.1% (22.5% y/y) after declining 2.0% in February. Working lower was multi-family building by 0.5% (+3.9% y/y) after rising 0.3%.

Nonresidential private construction fell 1.2% (+8.5% y/y) in March after a 0.7% gain in February. Manufacturing construction fell 1.6% (+31.9% y/y) after gaining 1.0% in February. Commercial construction fell 1.9% (+15.5% y/y) following a 0.7% decline. Increasing was lodging construction by 0.4% (-25.4% y/y) after surging 3.9% in February. Transportation building ticked 0.1% higher (2.3% y/y) following a 2.1% jump. Office building held steady (4.9% y/y) for the second straight month.

The value of public construction eased 0.2% (+1.7% y/y) in March after slipping 0.1% in February. Spending on highways & streets, which makes up roughly one-third of public construction spending, declined 0.4% (+7.5% y/y) after falling 1.5% in February. Office construction fell 1.1% (+4.5% y/y) after a 0.6% February decline. Water supply construction weakened 1.1% (+5.6% y/y). Offsetting these declines, health care construction rose 1.2% (13.7% y/y), the fourth strong gain in five months and power facility construction jumped 1.0% (22.4% y/y).

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

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