Economy Watch: Construction Spending Takes a Dip in April

Both private and public construction spending declined for the month in almost every property category, according to the Census Bureau, including in lodging and health care.

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

Contrary to predictions, total U.S. construction spending dropped 1.4 percent in April compared with the previous month, coming in at an annualized rate of just over $1.218 trillion, according to the Census Bureau on Friday. Even so, compared with a year earlier, total construction spending gained 6.7 percent.

Both private and public construction spending declined for the month, though the public sector drop was steeper (as has been the case). Private construction spending was down only 0.7 percent from March, with private residential construction also down 0.7 percent, and private nonresidential construction off 0.6 percent. Spending on public construction projects was off 3.7 percent for the month.

Construction spending was down for the month in almost every property category, or, in a few cases, broke even. Spending on lodging was down 0.8 percent, and even health care spending—which has typically gone up—was down 1.3 percent for the month. Spending on office projects neither gained or lost in April. Only water supply project spending, usually a public expenditure, gained of the month: 2.4 percent.

Compared with last year, however, most categories of construction spending were up. Spending on lodging projects gained 5.9 percent year-over-year, and office project spending was up 12.4 percent. A few public categories, by contrast, lost ground year-over-year, such as sewage and waste disposal projects, which were down 23.6 percent.