Construction spending posts fourth straight increase

June 7, 2009
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For the fourth straight month, private nonresidential construction spending increased, rising 1.8 percent in April, according to the June 1 report by the U.S. Census Bureau. On a year-over-year basis, private nonresidential construction spending is up 2.0 percent. Overall, total nonresidential construction spending increased 0.8 percent on the month to $712.3 billion, up 2.5 percent from April 2008.

Construction subsectors posting the largest gains from the previous month were power plants, up 7.2 percent; communication, up 6.0 percent; and manufacturing, up 3.8 percent. Meanwhile, construction subsectors posting the largest gains from one year ago were manufacturing, up 70.3 percent; power, up 25.9 percent; and conservation and development, up 16.7 percent.

In contrast, those construction subsectors posting decreases in spending from last month were water supply, down 5.9 percent, and commercial construction, down 2.6 percent. Since April 2008, communication construction spending is down 26.1 percent, commercial is down 24.4 percent, and office construction is down 10.5 percent.

Public nonresidential construction spending fell 0.5 percent for the month, but is still up 3.3 percent from April 2008. Residential construction spending finally increased for the month, up 0.6 percent from March, but still down 34.4 percent from a year ago. Overall, total construction spending increased 0.8 percent on the month, but is down 10.7 percent from April 2008.

Anirban Basu is chief economist with Associated Builders and Contractors.

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