Total construction spending registered a small gain in April but showed very mixed patterns among major segments, according to an analysis of new Census Bureau data by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials cautioned that a surge in certain project types and regions could leave the industry short of workers even while overall unemployment remains high.
Construction put in place totaled $861 billion in April, rising 0.4 percent since March and up 4.3 percent since April 2012. Private residential construction spending inched down 0.1 percent in April but jumped 19 percent from a year earlier. Private nonresidential spending climbed 2.2 percent for the month and 0.6 percent year-over-year. Public construction spending dropped 1.2 percent for the month and 5.1 percent over 12 months.
The largest private nonresidential category, power construction – which includes oil and gas field and pipeline projects as well as power plants, renewable power and transmission lines – leaped 10.8 percent in April following a steep downward revision in the March estimate. Despite the one-month surge, power construction spending was down 2.8 percent since April 2012. The second-largest private segment, manufacturing construction, slumped 2.6 percent for the month but added 2.2 percent over 12 months.