Economy Watch: Construction Spending Ekes Out Gain in December

Construction spending in the last month of 2015 was just slightly up from the month before, with variations among the different sectors.

Construction spending came in at an annualized rate of $1,116.6 billion during December 2015, or 0.1 percent above the revised November estimate, the Census Bureau reported on Monday. The December figure is also 8.2 percent above the December 2014 estimate of $1,031.6 billion.

As usual, spending varied according to the kind of construction. Residential construction spending was up 0.7 percent for the month, noted the bureau. Nonresidential constructon spending actually took a dip of 0.4 percent for the month. But for the year, the gain for nonresidential construction was fairly strong: 8.3 percent, with residential up 8.1 percent.

Leading the way in the annual nonresidential construction spending gain was the hotel sector, which was up 29.1 percent compared with December 2014. The office sector was also strong, enjoying a gain of 16.6 percent. Manufacturing, though it slowed down considerably toward the end of 2015—down 7.2 percent for the month in December—was nevertheless up 16.9 percent year-over-year.

The value of U.S. construction in 2015 was $1,097.3 billion, 10.5 percent above the $993.4 billion spent in 2014. Of the 2015 total, the value of nonresidential construction was nearly $675 billion, with lodging at $21 billion and office at $56.1 billion.