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March Construction Spending Ticks Upward; Infrastructure on Roll


The U.S. Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce announced that construction spending during March 2016 was estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1,137.5 billion, 0.3 percent (±1.0 percent) above the revised February estimate of $1,133.6 billion.

The March figure is 8.0 percent (±1.6 percent) above the March 2015 estimate of $1,052.9 billion. During the first 3 months of this year, construction spending amounted to $240.4 billion, 9.1 percent (±1.5 percent) above the $220.3 billion for the same period in 2015.

Spending on private construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $842.3 billion, 1.1 percent (±0.8 percent) above the revised February estimate of $832.8 billion.

  • Residential construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $435.5 billion in March, 1.6 percent (±1.3 percent) above the revised February estimate of $428.8 billion.
  • Nonresidential construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $406.8 billion in March, 0.7 percent (±0.8 percent) above the revised February estimate of $404.0 billion.

The estimated seasonally adjusted annual rate of public construction spending in March was $295.2 billion, 1.9 percent (±2.0 percent) below the revised February estimate of $300.8 billion. Educational construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $69.6 billion, 0.4 percent (±2.8 percent) above the revised February estimate of $69.4 billion. Highway construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $97.3 billion, 0.4 percent (±6.6 percent) above the revised February estimate of $96.9 billion.

According to Patrick Newport, U.S. Economist for IHS Global Insight, said, "The key concept in this report, core construction (single-family, multifamily, state and local government, and private nonresidential construction), increased for the fourth straight month, rising 0.2 percent. For the first quarter, core spending was up a solid 11.1 percent (annual rate).

"Single-family construction, which reflects movements in single-family housing starts over the prior 12 months, was flat in March, while multifamily construction climbed a solid 5.6 perent, Newport said. "The outlook for residential construction this year is for further solid gains driven by a pickup in household formation by young adults.

"Private nonresidential spending, which had been zigzagging around the $400 billion mark for nine months, climbed out of its funk, rising for the third straight month to its highest level since October 2008," Newport continued. "This category consists of 11 subcategories whose recent performance has been mixed – manufacturing and communications are slipping, office, and education and lodging are climbing and the remaining categories are moving laterally.

"Public spending fell 1.9 percent, likely a one-month blip; for the first quarter, and infrastructure spending jumped a whopping 19.5 percent (annualized) as spending related to the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) started to kick in," Newport concluded.