New Construction Spending Inches Higher in February

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The U.S. Census Bureau reported Monday morning that construction spending in February rose by 0.1% to an estimated seasonally adjusted annual rate of about $1.273 trillion, above the upwardly revised estimate of $1.272 trillion in January. Compared with February 2017, total spending was up 3%.

For all of 2017, new construction spending rose 4.1% to an estimated total of $1.234 trillion, compared with the 2016 total of $1.186 billion. For the first two months of 2018, construction spending totaled $176.3 billion, up 4.4% year over year.

The consensus estimate by economists surveyed by Bloomberg News called for month-over-month spending to rise by 0.5% in February.

For the month of February, private residential construction rose by 0.1% month over month to $533.4 billion. Private nonresidential construction rose 1.5% month over month, and total private construction spending on a seasonally adjusted annual basis rose 0.7% to $982 billion, compared with a revised January total of $974.8 billion.

In the private sector, single-family residential construction is 9.5% higher than it was a year ago and multifamily construction was up 0.2% from February 2017. Private, nonresidential construction was up 0.5% year over year.

In the public sector, seasonally adjusted total spending fell 2.1% compared with the January rate and was 1.6% higher compared with February 2017. Spending on educational facilities decreased by 0.5% month over month and rose 3% from last February’s spending. Public residential construction dropped 0.7% month over month and increased by 2.4% compared with February 2017.

Public spending on streets and highways fell just 0.2% month over month but remains down 5.1% year over year. Spending on health care construction is down 12.6% sequentially and up 8.6% year over year.