Drop in residential brings down U.S. construction spending 1.7%

Updated May 3, 2018

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Spending on construction in the United States fell 1.7 percent in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1.284 trillion, according to data from the Commerce Department.

Despite the monthly drop, U.S. construction spending remained up 3.6 percent over the March 2017 rate.

The main contributor to the overall drop in spending was a 3.5-percent drop in spending on home construction. Spending among private home builders fell 3.5 percent to a rate of $536 billion in March. Spending on single-family home construction fell 0.4 percent to $283.5 billion, but remains up 9.7 percent over the year-ago rate. Spending on multi-family structures like apartments however fell for a third consecutive month, dipping 2.7 percent to a rate of $59 billion. Multi-family spending is now 8.2 percent below the March 2017 rate.

Total nonresidential spending also fell slightly during March, down 0.3 percent to a rate of $741 billion. Top percentage declines in nonresidential were water supply, down 4.5 percent to $12 billion; public safety, down 4.2 percent to $9 billion; and commercial, down 2.3 percent to $91 billion. Top percentage gains during the month were conservation and development, up 8.3 percent to $9 billion; religious, up 3.5 percent to $3 billion; and communication, up 1.6 percent to $24 billion.

Total construction spending from the private sector fell 2.1 percent to a rate of $987 billion, but remains up 4 percent year over year. Total government spending was flat in march at $297 billion and is 3 percent above the year ago rate.