Economy Watch: Construction Spending Flat in May

Residential construction was up 0.5 percent and non-residential construction was down 0.3 percent, leading total construction to remain flat for the month, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Compared to May 2016, however, all major nonresidential construction categories enjoyed increased spending.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

U.S. construction spending in May neither grew nor declined compared with April, according to the Census Bureau on Monday. Residential construction was down 0.5 percent, but nonresidential construction gained 0.3 percent to balance things out.

Compared with a year ago, total construction still turned in a gain, up 4.5 percent, reported the bureau. Almost all of the annual gain was represented by residential construction spending, which was up 10.9 percent. By contrast, nonresidential construction spending was up only 0.3 percent year-over-year.

Commercial Concurs

Spending on office projects increased for the month, up 1.6 percent, and spending on health care projects made an improvement of 0.6 percent for the month. The Census Bureau category “commercial,” which includes industrial space, saw a drop of 0.7 percent for the month, while hotel construction spending edged down 0.3 percent compared with April.

Compared with May 2016, however, all major categories on nonresidential construction enjoyed increased spending. For office projects, spending was up 14.7 percent for the year, and “commercial” projects gained 9.1 percent. Spending on health care facilities was up 2.1 percent, and hotels 2.3 percent. Construction spending on manufacturing facilities, however, dropped 10.5 percent for the year.