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Total Construction Spending Up 1%, Mostly Thanks to Public Sector

March 31, 2019
by admin

Total construction spending rose in February however the increase was almost totally in the publicly funded sector. The Census Bureau said total spending was up 1.0 percent from January to a seasonally adjusted rate of $1.320 trillion compared to $1.307 trillion in January and was 1.1 percent higher than the rate in February 2018.

Privately funded spending, at a rate of $994.546 billion, represented only a 0.2 percent gain over the $992.961 billion rate in January and fell 1.9 percent year-over-year. In contrast the much smaller part of the industry represented by public spending jumped 3.6 percent from January and 11.5 percent year over year.

On a non-adjusted basis there was $91.821 billion spent on construction during the month compared to $90.047 billion in January. On a year-to-date basis, the $181.868 billion spent during the first two months of 2019 is a 1.4 percent increase over the same period in 2018.

The non-adjusted figure for privately funding spending during the month was $71.485 billion, up from $70.478 billion in January. YTD spending was down 0.6 percent to $141.963 billion.

Both single-family and multifamily private construction spending moved lower on a seasonally adjusted basis although overall residential spending was up 0.7 percent from January to $540.897 billion. It dropped by 3.4 percent compared to the previous February.

Spending on single-family construction was down 1.1 percent to $267.179 billion and was 7.1 percent lower than a year earlier. Multifamily spending fell 0.4 percent for the month but was up 7.5 percent year over year. In addition to single-family and multi-family new construction, the overall residential number includes maintenance and remodeling which could account for the higher performance reflected in January to February total.

Non-adjusted residential spending in February was $37.051 billion, up from $35.682 in January, but it was down 2.5 percent from the first two months of 2018. Single-family spending fell from $18.708 billion in January to $17.758 in February and multifamily spending was flat at just over $5.1 billion. Single-family spending YTD is down 6.2 percent while there has been 11.0 percent growth in the multifamily number thus far this year.

Total public spending was $325.769 on a seasonally adjusted basis compared to $314.373 billion in January. Residential spending, which is always a small line item, grew even smaller, shrinking 0.6 percent for the month to $5.652 billion and by 16.3 percent compared to February 2018. On a non-adjusted basis, total spending was $20.336 billion and residential spending $0.402 billion. The year to date numbers were up 8.9 percent for overall spending but down 15.7 percent for residential spending to $39.905 billion and $0.794 billion respectively.

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