Construction spending drops in October, nonres rises

Construction spending in October fell 0.8 percent from September and 0.6 percent from October 2006, according to the Census Bureau. Private residential construction was down 2 percent from September and 16 percent from a year ago. Private nonresidential decreased 0.5 percent from September, but increased 17 percent from October 2006. Public construction rose 0.8 percent and 15 percent.

The four biggest nonresidential components, combining private and public construction, rose. Educational was up 2 percent and 19 percent; commercial increased 0.1 percent and 10 percent; highway rose 0.8 percent and 9.2 percent; and office was up 1.6 percent and 19 percent.

In the November issue of the Monthly Labor Review, the BLS projected that overall output would rise at an average annual rate of 2.8 percent vs. 3.1 percent from 1996 to 2006. Construction output is projected to climb 1.4 percent per year, down from 2 percent, and construction employment is projected to rise by 781,000 jobs, or 1 percent per year. Construction is third among all industries, behind food services and drinking places and offices of health practitioners, in the number of jobs to be added.