Thursday, August 2, 2012

Overall Construction Spending Rises Slightly

Commerce Department figures released yesterday point to strengthening home building as the driver for a slight overall increase of 0.4% in construction spending in June. May’s gain in overall construction spending was also revised upward to 1.6%. While employment in the construction sector of the U. S. economy still lags painfully behind many other recovering parts of the American economy, any signs of returning health in the construction sector are encouraging.

Overall construction spending now sits at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $842.1 billion, up 12.9% from the February 2011 twelve year low. Nevertheless, current levels are only about half of what economists say is needed for healthy growth in construction. June’s overall construction numbers were driven upward by a 1.3% increase in housing construction, to an annual rate of $256.6 billion. Private nonresidential construction rose only 0.1% to $302.3 billion, with spending on office and hotel construction going up while shipping center construction declined.

Overall government construction spending is flat at $274.2 billion annually, with federal spending down 1.6% while state and local construction layouts are up a slight 0.2%. Though these numbers don’t signal any resounding strength in a construction industry recovery, in today’s struggling economy, any uptick is welcome.

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