Construction Spending Rose in January from December and January 2021

Construction spending increased in January compared to both December and a year ago, with strong gains in private nonresidential and residential construction but mixed results for public spending, according to an analysis of federal spending data the Associated General Contractors of America released March 1.

“Private nonresidential construction, especially for manufacturing plants, has rebounded sharply in recent months, while demand for housing remains strong,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “But public projects have yet to grow consistently.”

Construction spending in January totaled $1.68 trillion at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, 1.3 percent above the upwardly revised December rate and 8.2 percent higher than in January 2021. Private residential construction spending rose 1.3 percent in January from a month prior and 13.4 percent from January 2021, while private nonresidential construction spending increased 1.8 percent from December to January and 7.3 percent from January 2021. In contrast, public construction spending rose 0.6 percent for the month but slipped 1.3 percent from the year-ago level.

Among residential segments, single-family construction added 1.2 percent over the December total and 15.4 percent year-over-year. Multifamily construction inched down less than 0.1 percent in January but rose 4.8 percent from a year earlier. Spending on improvements to existing owner-occupied houses increased 1.8 percent for the month and 13.7 percent year-over-year.

A surge in manufacturing construction, which gained 8.5 percent for the month and 31.2 percent year-over-year, accounted for the bulk of the private nonresidential pickup. Commercial construction, declined 0.5 percent in January but jumped 18.0 percent year-over-year, with year-over-year gains in each component: warehouses (up 22.4 percent), retail categories (up 15.2 percent), and farm (up 4.4 percent). Educational construction was unchanged for the month and skidded 9.9 percent year-over-year.

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