Construction Spending Reaches Four-Year High in July, Census Bureau Says

Construction spending in July reached a four-year high of $901 billion at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, up 0.6 percent from June and 5.2 percent compared to July 2012, the Census Bureau reported this week. Private residential spending increased 0.6 percent for the month and 17 percent year over year. Private non-residential spending rose 1.3 percent and 2 percent, respectively.

Public construction spending dropped 0.3 percent and 3.7 percent. Of the three residential components, new single-family construction grew 0.5 percent and 29 percent; new multifamily spending jumped 0.1 percent and 39 percent; and improvements to existing single- and multifamily buildings 0.8 percent and 1.4 percent.

The three largest private nonresidential components all increased from one month and one year ago: power construction (including conventional and renewable power plus oil and gas fields and pipelines) grew 0.5 and 5 percent respectively; manufacturing construction grew 2.9 percent and 0.8 percent, and commercial (new and renovated retail, warehouse and farm), grew 1.7 percent and 2.6 percent.

The fastest-growing private nonresidential segment was lodging, which grew 6.1 percent compared to June and 33 percent year over year.

Real GDP increased 2.5 percent in the second quarter, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported, faster than the 1.7-percent advance estimate in July. Real private investment in nonresidential structures, including wells and mines, climbed 16 percent, while real residential investment jumped 13 percent. Real government investment in structures dropped 7.4 percent.

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