Construction Spending Slips in June

Residential market pauses while private nonresidential and public spending decline  

Total construction spending cooled in June as residential building hit the pause button, while private nonresidential and public construction also declined, according to recent analysis of new Census Bureau data by the Associated General Contractors of America. According to the report, association officials urged lawmakers in Washington to make infrastructure investment a top federal priority for the fiscal year beginning in October.

“New single-family and multifamily construction both had rare slowdowns in June, while private nonresidential construction remained stuck in neutral as it has all year and the long slump in public construction worsened,” said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist. “For the rest of 2013, private construction appears likely to grow again but public spending is showing no signs of a recovery.”

Construction put in place totaled $884 billion in June — down 0.6% from May but up 3.3% from June 2012. Those earlier figures included steep upward revisions to residential improvements as the Census Bureau corrected improvements data back to January 2012. Despite the dip in June, spending that month was still the second-highest level since August 2009. Private residential spending was flat for the month and 18% higher than in June 2012. New single-family construction slid 0.8% in June but was 28% above the year-ago mark. New multifamily spending fell 3.3% in June but shot up 41% year-over-year. Private nonresidential spending slipped 0.9% in June and rose 1.4% year-over-year. Public construction spending shrank 1.1% for the month and 9.3% over 12 months.

“The major private nonresidential segments show divergent trends,” Simonson said. “Power construction, which includes oil and gas fields and pipelines as well as electricity, climbed for the fifth straight month in June, even after Census posted large upward revisions for May and April. But such major categories as manufacturing, health care and retail construction remain in the doldrums. Meanwhile, the largest public categories—highways and education construction—are now plummeting at double-digit rates.”

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