U.S. Construction Spending Climbs 0.3 Percent in March

The seasonally adjusted annual rate of construction spending for March was $1,137.5 billion, according to the latest release from the U.S. Census Bureau. This is a 0.3% jump from February’s estimate which was revised down from $1,144.0 billion to $1,133.6 billion. January’s estimate, which previously was at $1,150.1 billion, has been revised down to $1,122.0 billion. With the revised estimates, January’s estimate was down 0.3% from December and February’s estimate was a 1.0% increase over January. It’s been eight and a half years since the annual rate of construction spending was this high. The annual rate for November 2007 was $1,133.7 billion. The annual rate for March is an 8.0% increase from a year ago.

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During the first quarter of 2016, construction spending totaled $240.4 billion. This is 9.1% higher than the same period in 2015 when spending totaled $220.3 billion.

The seasonally adjusted rate for private construction spending for March was 1.1% above February’s revised estimate. March’s estimate was $842.3 billion while February’s estimate was revised down from $846.2 billion to $832.8 billion.  January’s estimate of $847.2 billion for private construction spending was also revised down to $822.2 billion.  Total private construction spending is up 8.5% from March 2015.

Private nonresidential spending was up 0.7 percent from February’s revised estimate of $404.0 billion to $406.8 billion in March.  Transportation was up 11.3%, Religious was up 5.2% and Communication was up 3.7%. Private residential was up 1.6% for the month which was led by new multi-family construction which rose 5.6% in March.

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The seasonally adjusted annual rate of public construction spending was down 1.9% in March to an estimate of $295.2 billion.  February’s estimate of public construction spending was revised up from $297.8 billion to $300.8 billion. January’s estimate was revised down again from $302.8 billion to $299.7 billion. March’s estimate for public construction spending is up 6.7% from a year ago.

Despite the ups and downs so far this year, 2016 is still outpacing 2015 in total construction put in place. With warmer weather settling in early last month, hopefully, we will see a nice increase in construction spending for April.

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