Economy Watch: Construction Spending Edges Up in March

The Census Bureau revealed that overall construction spending increased slightly last month, with some commercial sectors faring better than others.
Photo credit: Elvert Barnes via Wikimedia Commons
Photo credit: Elvert Barnes via Wikimedia Commons

Total U.S. construction spending during March came in at an annualized rate of $1,137.5 billion, 0.3 percent more than in February, the Census Bureau reported on Tuesday. The March figure is also 8 percent above that in March 2015.

Spending on private construction in March was 1.1 percent higher than the February total, but public construction spending was another matter. In March, the annualized rate of public construction spending was 1.9 percent below the rate in February. Public construction spending is now 9 percent below the peak in March 2009, during the early days of the stimulus.

Naturally, some kinds of commercial construction spending fared better than others both for the month and annually. Office construction spending was down for the month by 1.3 percent, but up for the year by a strong 19.5 percent, the Census Bureau noted. Industrial construction gained 1.2 percent for the month and 14.5 percent for the year. Lodging was up 1 percent for the month and a whopping 27.7 percent for the year.

A few categories were losers. Year-over-year, the largest drops in construction spending were public-oriented: public safety, down 12.3 percent, and water supply, down 6.1 percent. Among private construction projects, spending on manufacturing facilites was down 2.1 percent as the strong dollar and other factors slowed industrial production.