The U.S. Census Bureau announced the following value put in place construction statistics for March 2018:

  • Total Construction: Construction spending during March 2018 was estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1,284.7 billion, 1.7 percent (±0.8 percent) below the revised February estimate of $1,306.4 billion. The March figure is 3.6 percent (±1.3 percent) above the March 2017 estimate of $1,239.6 billion. During the first three months of this year, construction spending amounted to $279.0 billion, 5.5 percent (±1.2 percent) above the $264.5 billion for the same period in 2017.
  • Private Construction: Spending on private construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $987.5 billion, 2.1 percent (±0.8 percent) below the revised February estimate of $1,009.1 billion. Residential construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $536.8 billion in March, 3.5 percent (±1.3 percent) below the revised February estimate of $556.5 billion. Nonresidential construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $450.7 billion in March, 0.4 percent (±0.8 percent)* below the revised February estimate of $452.5 billion.
  • Public Construction: In March, the estimated seasonally adjusted annual rate of public construction spending was $297.2 billion, nearly the same as (±1.6 percent)* the revised February estimate of $297.3 billion. Educational construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $73.1 billion, 0.1 percent (±2.5 percent)* below the revised February estimate of $73.2 billion. Highway construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $91.0 billion, 1.2 percent (±5.4 percent)* above the revised February estimate of $89.9 billion.

Revisions

  • January as reported in February: +0.0%
  • January as revised in March: +1.6%
  • February as reported in February: +0.1%
  • February as revised in March: +1.0%

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Despite the decline in March, these numbers, in isolation, assuming they hold, will add to GDP estimates for the first quarter.

That's a lot of ifs, but that is the nature of these heavily revised numbers.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock