Economy Watch: Construction Spending Dips in January

The monthly drop was largely due to a decrease in public construction, the Census Bureau noted.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

U.S. construction spending during January came in at an annualized rate of $1,180.3 billion, or 1 percent below the December rate, according to the Census Bureau on Wednesday. However, the most recent January figure is nevertheless 3.1 percent above the January 2016 rate.

The monthly drop was entirely because of a slacking off in public construction. Spending on private construction in January was 0.2 percent above the revised December estimate, the bureau noted. By contrast, public construction spending was down 5 percent for the month.

Total residential construction spending eked out a 0.3 percent gain for the month, but was still up 5.5 percent for the year. Nonresidential construction spending, on the other hand, dropped 1.9 percent in January compared with December. Year-over-year, nonresidential construction spending gained 1.5 percent.

In the nonresidential sector, spending on office projects was off in January, down 1.7 percent. That might be a pause, since the annual increase for office projects was 28.8 percent, the largest annual gain for any property type. Spending on lodging construction likewise was robust, year-over-year, with a 22.2 percent gain compared with January 2016.

Construction spending for such projects as transportation, public safety, waste disposal and water supply—mostly representing public spending—all dropped siably since last year. More than 10 percent in all cases, and more than 20 percent in some cases.