Mixed messages from US construction data

02 August 2013

Construction output for the 12 months to June was up +3.3% on the position a year ago at US$ 884 billion. However, the figure was down -0.3% from the rolling annual total to May 2013 of US$ 889 billion.

Although residential construction was up +17.6% compared to a year ago, to US$ 338 billion in the year to June, it slipped -0.1% compared to the running total to the end of May. In contrast, non-residential construction was down -4.0% year-on-year in June, and -1.0% compared to May’s total.

Publicly-funded construction in the US continued to fall in June, with the value of this sector of the market falling -9.3% compared to a year ago to US$ 261 billion. The sharpest declines were seen in construction of offices, commercial property, educational facilities, amusement & recreation, highway & street, sewage & waste disposal and conservation & development.

In contrast, privately-funded construction was up +9.7% compared to a year ago, at US$ 622 billion, with growth in the residential, lodging, office, amusement & recreation and power sectors. However, there was a fall in private construction from May to June of -0.4%.

Commenting on the figures, Ken Simonson, chief economist at the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) said, “Power construction, which includes oil and gas fields and pipelines as well as electricity, climbed for the fifth straight month in June, even after large upward revisions for May and April. But such major categories as manufacturing, health care and retail construction remain in the doldrums. Meanwhile, the largest public categories—highways and education construction—are now plummeting at double-digit rates.”

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