Economy Watch: Construction Spending Edges Down in March

While spending on construction projects declined for the month, the figure is above the March 2016 rate. Lodging and health care spending was up for the month, while office and other commercial spending was down.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Monthly Construction Spending, March 2017
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Monthly Construction Spending, March 2017

U.S. construction spending during March was down, coming in at an annualized rate of $1,218.3 billion, 0.2 percent below the revised February rate, according to the Census Bureau on Monday. On the other hand, the March 2017 figure is 3.6 percent above the March 2016 rate of $1,176.4 billion.

Spending on private construction projects was flat in March, though up 7 percent from the same month a year ago. As for public construction, it was a drag on the overall construction numbers: the rate was down 0.9 percent for the month, and 6.5 percent year-over-year.

A few property types enjoyed an uptick in spending for the month, including both single-family and multifamily, at 0.3 percent and 2 percent, respectively. Lodging eked out a 0.7 percent gain, and health care was up 1.7 percent for the month. Office and other commercial construction spending was down for the month.

For the year, most segments are still up in terms of spending on construction projects. Single-family housing gained 4.7 percent, while multifamily was up 7.4 percent. Spending on office construction was up 15.7 percent, and other commercial project spending gained 10.9 percent. Spending on manufacturing projects was off 9.7 percent year-over-year, however.