Monday, February 02, 2009

Construction Spending: Private Nonresidential has Peaked

by Bill McBride on 2/02/2009 10:00:00 AM

From the Census Bureau: December 2008 Construction at $1,053.7 Billion Annual Rate

Spending on private construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $737.1 billion, 1.7 percent (±1.1%) below the revised November estimate of $749.6 billion. Residential construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $319.2 billion in December, 3.2 percent (±1.3%) below the revised November estimate of $329.9 billion. Nonresidential construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $417.9 billion in December, 0.4 percent (±1.1%)* below the revised November estimate of $419.7 billion.

The value of private construction in 2008 was $770.4 billion, 9.4 percent (±1.8%)below the $850.0 billion spent in 2007. Residential construction in 2008 was $358.4 billion, 27.2 percent (±2.2%) below the 2007 figure of $492.5 billion and nonresidential construction was $412.0 billion, 15.3 percent (±1.8%) above the $357.5 billion in 2007..
Construction Spending Click on graph for larger image in new window.

The first graph shows private residential and nonresidential construction spending since 1993. Note: nominal dollars, not inflation adjusted.

Residential construction spending is still declining, and now nonresidential spending has peaked and will probably decline sharply over the next 18 months.

Construction Spending YoY
The second graph shows the year-over-year change for private residential and nonresidential construction spending.

The YoY change in nonresidential spending is slowing down and will probably turn negative in the first half of 2009. Residential construction spending is still declining, but the rate of decline has slowed.

This shows hints of two key stories for 2009: 1) a collapse in private nonresidential construction spending, and 2) and the possibility of a bottom in private residential construction spending (It might not happen in '09, but we can finally start looking).