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Construction Spending Up Slightly; Highways Rise


Construction spending during November 2018 was estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1,299.9 billion, 0.8 percent (±1.3percent) above the revised October estimate of $1,289.7 billion. The November figure is 3.4 percent (±1.5 percent) above the November 2017 estimate of $1,257.3 billion.

During the first 11 months of last year, construction spending amounted to $1,200.7 billion, 4.5 percent (±1.2 percent) above the $1,149.3 billion for the same period in 2017.

In November, the estimated seasonally adjusted annual rate of public construction spending was $306.5 billion, 0.9 percent (±2.3 percent) below the revised October estimate of $309.3 billion. Educational construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $76.7 billion, 2.0 percent (±1.6 percent) below the revised October estimate of $78.3 billion. 

Highway construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $93.4 billion, 1.7 percent (±5.6 percent) above the revised October estimate of $91.8 billion.

Spending on private construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $993.4 billion, 1.3 percent (±0.8 percent) above the revised October estimate of $980.4 billion. 

  • Residential construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $542.5 billion in November,3.5 percent (±1.3 percent) above the revised October estimate of $524.2 billion. 
  • Nonresidential construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $450.8 billion in November,1.2 percent (±0.8 percent) below the revised October estimate of $456.1 billion.

"One of the most interesting and surprising aspects of [the most recent] release was evidence of a dip in infrastructure spending, at least in certain categories,” said Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “Spending on infrastructure was one of the key sources of nonresidential construction spending growth for much of last year, but declines in monthly construction spending were observed in the public safety, water supply and educational categories. This pattern is likely to prove temporary, given the healthier conditions of state and local government finances in much of the nation.

“The dip in November nonresidential spending should not be viewed as a leading indicator of coming decline,” said Basu. “The government’s employment numbers indicate that contractors have continued to take on more staff, presumably because there is a growing amount of work to be done. While weather-related impacts are more severe at this time of year, rendering employment and other data more difficult to interpret, the U.S. economy still growing, and with more people working, that should ultimately translate into expanding nonresidential construction spending."