US construction up +5.3% in 2013

By Chris Sleight04 February 2014

The value of construction put in place in the US came to US$ 930 billion last year – a +5.3% increase on 2012, according to the US Census Bureau. The residential sector drove growth, with a +17.5% increase in the value of work carried out, while non-residential construction was down -1.1%.

There was also a marked gap between publicly and privately funded construction. While private work was up +8% to US$ 664 billion – 71% of total construction – the public sector was down -0.7% to US$ 267 billion.

Within the private sector, it was the residential construction that made the main difference. This US$ 353 billion per year segment of the market was up +18.3% compared to a year ago.

There was also good growth in some parts of the private non-residential sector, with areas like lodging, office, commercial, transportation and amusement & recreation construction seeing double-digit gains. However, declines in other segments – most notable the power industry – more than offset these and meant private non-residential construction fell -1.7% last year.

In contrast, the power sector saw the most growth out of all categories of public construction last year, with a +25.1% increase in spending. There was also a good +11.3% gain for highway and street construction, which at US$ 84 billion is the largest area of public construction spending. Spending on structures related to transportation was also up last year, but declines in every other sector prompted the -0.7% overall fall in public construction spending in 2013.

Commenting on the figures, Ken Simonson, chief economist with the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) said, “Residential construction ended on a strong note in 2013 and should remain positive for at least the next several months. Meanwhile private non-residential spending appears to be poised for a rebound, but the short-term outlook for public construction is still negative.”

He continued, “The on-going surge of oil- and gas-related activity should boost several types of private non-residential construction in 2014. Many regions will experience more work on pipelines, railroads, manufacturing plants and even fuelling facilities for trucks and buses that convert to natural gas. In addition, communities in the drilling areas will get more housing, hotels and retail projects. As a result, private non-residential spending should grow at a +6% to +10% rate in 2014 overall.”

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