Economy Watch: Construction Spending Edges Up

U.S. construction spending is at its highest level since March 2009, and unemployment claims decrease for the week ending December 28.

The Census Bureau reported on Thursday that U.S. construction spending during November came in at an annualized rate of $934.4 billion, or 1 percent higher than the revised October estimate of $925.1 billion. That’s the highest level since March 2009, when spending was dropping with the deepening of the recession. The November 2013 figure is also 5.9 percent above the same month a year ago, according to the bureau.

Spending on private construction was at annualized $659.4 billion in November, or 2.2 percent above the October rate. Public construction spending, which is still feeling the lingering effects of the sequester, was down 1.8 percent. Both residential and nonresidential construction saw upticks for the month: residential by 1.9 percent and nonresidential by 2.7 percent.

Year-over-year, residential construction spending was up 16 percent. New single-family home construction increased 18.4 percent, while multifamily construction spiked 36.3 percent. Among nonresidential construction, there’s been a massive surge in hotel construction spending since November 2012, up 31.2 percent. At the other end of the scale, construction spending on power facilities dropped 21.4 percent since last year.

Unemployment Claims Tick Down

The U.S. Department of Labor said on Thursday that for the week ending Dec. 28, initial unemployment claims were 339,000, a decrease of 2,000 from the previous week. The four-week moving average was 357,250, an increase of 8,500 from the previous week.

Separately, the Institute for Supply Management said on Thursday that the ISM manufacturing index was at 57 percent in December, down from 57.3 percent in November. The employment index came in at 56.9 percent, up from 56.5 percent during the previous month, and the new orders index was at 64.2 percent, up from 63.6 percent in November.

Wall Street kicked off 2014 with a down day on Thursday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 135.31 points, or 0.82 percent. The S&P 500 was off 0.89 percent and the Nasdaq declined 0.79 percent.

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