Private, Non-Residential Housing Construction Continues to go Opposite Direction of Public Construction

Construction spending in the housing and private non-residential sectors continues to edge higher, but a dip in public spending has held the collective industry back a bit.

According to an analysis of new Census Bureau data by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), strong gains were made in apartment construction in March, and non-residential and homebuilding saw modest growth. However, public construction spending declined 0.6 percent for the month and 0.8 percent year-over-year, sinking to its lowest mark since November.

Construction put in place totaled $943 billion in March, 0.2 percent above the revised February total and matching the latest estimate for January. Spending in March was 8.4 percent higher than a year earlier.

Private residential construction spending increased by 0.5 percent in March to reach the highest rate since November 2008. The latest total topped the year-ago level by 16 percent. Single-family construction rose 0.2 percent in March and 13 percent year-over-year. Multifamily spending leaped 4.4 percent and 33 percent, respectively.

“All of these trends are likely to continue,” Simonson predicts. “There appears to be plenty of demand for more apartments and many categories of private nonresidential construction. Single-family homebuilding should remain above year-ago levels, although growing much more slowly as the year progresses. Public construction is likely to shrink further, based on what has been proposed or enacted in federal and state budgets.”

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