Economy Watch: Driven by Residential, Construction Spending Enjoys February Gain

Residential spending was up 1.8 percent for the month, leading the pack among sectors for total U.S. construction spending, according to the Census Bureau's latest report.

Census Bureau construction spending 0217U.S. construction spending during February came in at an annualized rate of $1.192 trillion, or 0.8 percent more than the January figure, the Census Bureau reported on Monday. The February figure is also 3 percent more than the February 2016 total.

Both private and public spending were up for the month, which is a little unusual, since public construction spending has been dropping in recent years. Nevertheless, spending on private construction was at an annualized rate of $917.3 billion in February, or 0.8 percent greater than the January total. As for public construction spending, the annualized rate was $275.5 billion, or 0.6 percent more than the January total.

Residential spending was in the driver’s seat this February. Total spending on residential construction was up 1.8 percent for the month and 6.2 percent for the year. Nonresidential construction spending stayed the same in February compared with January, but was up 1 percent for the year.

Office construction spending, which has been robust lately—up 20.6 percent for the year in February—eked out a 0.1 percent gain for the month. Likewise, hotel construction spending gained 13.9 percent for the year, but actually dropped 0.5 percent for the month. Spending on various kinds of infrastructure has been dropping recently: transportation was down 10.6 percent for the year; sewage and waste disposal (down 27.7 percent); and water supply (down 15.4 percent), and mostly saw small drops for the month.