January Construction Spending Rises; Highways Fall


Construction spending during January 2017 was estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1,180.3 billion, 1.0 percent (±1.0 percent) below the revised December estimate of $1,192.2 billion, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The January figure is 3.1 percent (±1.5 percent) above the January 2016 estimate of $1,144.9 billion.

In January, the estimated seasonally adjusted annual rate of public construction spending was $268.7 billion, 5.0 percent (±1.8 percent) below the revised December estimate of $282.8 billion. Educational construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $69.2 billion, 2.7 percent (±2.5 percent) below the revised December estimate of $71.1 billion.

Highway construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $86.7 billion, 3.3 percent (±4.1 percent) below the revised December estimate of $89.6 billion. Highway construction shrank 10 percent year-over-year. Other transportation segments (transit, passenger rail, airports and ports) tumbled 8.1 percent for the month and 12 percent relative to January 2016. Sewage and waste construction plummeted by 4.2 percent and 27 percent, respectively. Water supply spending declined 12 percent and 11 percent, respectively.

Spending on private construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $911.6 billion, 0.2 percent (±0.8 percent) above the revised December estimate of $909.4 billion. Residential construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $476.4 billion in January, 0.5 percent (±1.3 percent) above the revised December estimate of $474.0 billion.

Nonresidential construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $435.3 billion in January, nearly the same as (±0.8 percent) the revised December estimate of $435.4 billion.

"These numbers suggest that demand for residential and private nonresidential structures remain strong but all levels of government are struggling to fund needed projects," said Ken Simonson, Associated General Contractors of America chief economist. "It appears that homebuilding, office and power construction will continue to grow through 2017, while manufacturing, highway and other transportation construction are likely to hold down overall growth."

Association officials said the President's call for new legislation to provide $1 trillion in investments to rebuild aging infrastructure would help boost demand for construction and support broader economic growth. They added that the President was right to insist that public funding must play a vital role in rebuilding the country's over-taxed public works.

"As a group that has long advocated for a mix of new private and public sector investments to finance civil works projects, we were encouraged to hear the President make it clear that any new federal plan must include public investments as well as new private financing opportunities," said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association's CEO. "We are committed to working with Congress and the administration to ensure the President's bold infrastructure vision becomes legislative reality."