National nonresidential construction spending grew 0.1 percent in July, according to an Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) analysis of data published by the U.S. Census Bureau. On a seasonally adjusted annualized basis, nonresidential spending totaled $1.08 trillion and is up 16.5 percent year over year.
Spending was up on a monthly basis in eight of the 16 nonresidential subcategories. Private nonresidential spending increased 0.5 percent, while public nonresidential construction spending was down 0.4 percent in July.
“After [the] jobs report, which indicated that nonresidential construction added an outsized number of jobs in August, one would have expected a strong construction spending growth number as well,” said ABC chief economist Anirban Basu. “Alas, the economic data, just like the economy, continue to be full of surprises. In July, nonresidential construction spending barely expanded. Once one adjusts for inflation, spending declined in real terms.
“Perhaps the bigger surprise is that construction spending weakness was not concentrated in the private developer-driven segments that have struggled to establish consistent momentum, but in a number of public construction segments,” said Basu. “Monthly spending was down in the highway/street, transportation, sewage/waste disposal and conservation/development categories. However, each of these categories has experienced year-over-year spending growth.
“Since nonresidential construction hiring was strong [in June], the expectation is that July’s construction spending number will prove to be an aberration,” said Basu. “Spending growth should be solid going forward, driven in large measure by several massive construction projects in development or early construction stages. That said, those segments that depend most on bank financing are poised to weaken going forward.”