US construction highest since December 2009

By Chris Sleight03 July 2012

The value of construction put in place in the US for the 12 months to the end of May stood at US$ 830 billion - the highest since December 2009. The figure was also up +7.0% on the level seen a year ago and showed a +0.9% improvement on April 2012.

The gains compared to a year ago were slightly stronger in the non-residential segment, which was up +7.4%. However, a +2.9% rise in residential activity from April saw this sub-sector rise +6.2% in May compared to the position in May 2011.

Publicly funded construction was down -3.9% from a year ago to US$ 269 billion, with the most significant drop coming in the residential sector. In contrast, privately funded construction grew +13.1% year-on-year, thanks particularly to surges in multi-family residential building, lodging, educational, manufacturing and power infrastructure construction. The private non-residential sector, which is worth nearly US$ 300 billion, was up +18.6% from a year ago.

Commenting on the figures, Ken Simonson, chief economist at the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) said, "It is encouraging to see such broad-based pick-up in private construction. Based on the number and variety of projects that have been announced in recent months, I expect the private non-residential sector to keep posting hefty gains for the rest of 2012 and beyond. Apartment construction seems sure to remain strong as well. Single-family home building is not as solid, but has apparently passed its low point."

Forecasting company IHS Global Insight also noted the strength of the private sector, but added that Public construction was at its lowest for six years.

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