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Monday, June 03, 2013

Construction Spending increased in April

by Calculated Risk on 6/03/2013 11:35:00 AM

The Census Bureau reported that overall construction spending increased in April:

The U.S. Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce announced today that construction spending during April 2013 was estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $860.8 billion, 0.4 percent above the revised March estimate of $857.7 billion. The April figure is 4.3 percent above the April 2012 estimate of $825.1 billion.
Private construction spending increased, and public construction spending decreased:
Spending on private construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $602.0 billion, 1.0 percent above the revised March estimate of $595.9 billion. ...

In April, the estimated seasonally adjusted annual rate of public construction spending was $258.8 billion, 1.2 percent below the revised March estimate of $261.8 billion.
Private Construction Spending Click on graph for larger image.

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

Private residential spending is 55% below the peak in early 2006, and up 36% from the post-bubble low.   Note: Residential spending was revised up for February and March.

Non-residential spending is 28% below the peak in January 2008, and up about 33% from the recent low.

Public construction spending is now 20% below the peak in March 2009 and at the lowest level since 2006 (not inflation adjusted).

Private Construction SpendingThe second graph shows the year-over-year change in construction spending.

On a year-over-year basis, private residential construction spending is now up 19%. Non-residential spending is flat  year-over-year. Public spending is down 5.1% year-over-year.

A few key themes:
1) Private residential construction is usually the largest category for construction spending, but there was a huge collapse in spending following the housing bubble (as expected).  Private residential is now slightly higher than private non-residential, and residential will probably be the largest category of construction spending in 2013.  Usually private residential construction leads the economy, so this is a good sign going forward.

2) Private non-residential construction spending usually lags the economy.  There was some increase this time for a couple of years - mostly related to energy and power - but the key sectors of office, retail and hotels are still at very low levels.

3) Public construction spending has declined to 2006 levels (not adjusted for inflation).  This has been a drag on the economy for 4 years. In real terms, this is the lowest level of public construction spending since February 2001