Construction spending in April was down month-to-month but recorded an increase from the year-earlier level, the Commerce Dept. has reported.
Commerce’s U.S. Census Bureau said in its latest construction spending snapshot, released on June 1, that the estimated value of projects completed in April fell 1.8% from March’s total, to a $1.134-trillion seasonally adjusted annual rate.
The report also said the April figure represented a 4.5% increase from the April 2015 rate.
Residential construction put in place in April dipped 1.5% from March, to an estimated $445.7-billion rate. But that was up 7.7%, year over year.
Nonresidential projects’ volume declined 2.1% in April, to a $688.2-billion rate, but climbed 2.5% compared with April 2015, the Census Bureau said.
Only five of the 16 nonresidential sectors posted month-to-month increases in April, including office construction, which rose 1.6%, to a $65.2-billion annual rate; and power, which edged up 0.3%, to a rate of $90.2 billion.
Highways and streets recorded the largest monthly decline, dropping 6.5% to an $89.8-billion rate.
Comparisons with April 2015 were more upbeat, as nine categories registered gains. Leaders were office construction, up 20.3%; and lodging, up 24.6% to a $24.4-billion rate.
Weak segments included manufacturing, off 9.8% to a $76.3-billion rate, and communication, which fell 16.4% to a $16.2-billion rate.
At the Associated Builders and Contractors, which concentrates on nonresidential construction, Chief Economist Anirban Basu said that spending increases in that sector "continues to struggle to maintain momentum."
Basu said in a statement that many observers cite the U.S. economy's slow growth, but he also said low construction-materials prices and shortages of workers may also be factors in construction spending trends.
Officials at the Associated General Contractors of America said the latest spending figures "reflect relatively strong market conditions." But they said the industry remains concerned about the lack of qualified workers and the need for infrastructure funding.