Economy Watch: Construction Spending Ticks Up in January

The Census Bureau's latest report showed U.S. construction spending had an overall good month in January, with some sectors seeing higher spending gains than others.

The Census Bureau reported on Tuesday that U.S. construction spending during January 2016 came in at an annualized rate of about $1.14 trillion, or 1.5 percent above the December rate. Moreover, the January figure is 10.4 percent above the January 2015 annualized rate of $1.033 trillion.

Both private and public construction spending gained for the month and year. Spending on private construction was at an annualized rate of $831.4 billion, or 0.5 percent above the December rate, while public construction spending was $309.4 billion, or 4.5 percent above the December rate. Spending on private and public construction was up year-over-year by 9.5 percent and 13 percent, respectively, the report said.

In the commercial real estate sector, most categories did well in January in terms of construction spending, the bureau noted. Spending on new hotels, office space, healthcare and educational buildings was up month-over-month (hotels by a whopping 6.7 percent). The category the bureau calls “commercial”—which includes industrial but also structures associated with the energy industry—was down 4.8 percent for the month.

For the year, most nonresidential categories also did well. Construction spending on was up on hotel (37.1 percent), office space (24.8 percent) and healthcare facilities (2.3 percent). “Commercial” construction spending edged down 0.8 percent year-over-year in January. Spending on private multifamily construction was up 2.6 percent for the month, or 30.4 percent for the year.