Construction Spending Rebounds in March

Construction spending rebounded to positive territory in March. Image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons user University of Salford

After a couple of mild months, construction spending rebounded in March, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

For the month, spending was up 6.0 percent from March 2011 to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $808.1 billion, and up from February by 0.1 percent. For the first three months of 2012, the combined construction activity of $171.2 billion, a 6.7 percent increase from the same period in 2011.

The most activity among construction’s subsets came from the private sector, where spending rose by 0.7 percent from February. Residential construction, at $244.1 billion, was up 0.7 percent in March, and nonresidential construction, at $287.8 billion, was also a monthly increase of 0.7 percent.

That data is consistent with similarly positive trends in the new home market, where sales have pointed to a growing, sustainable future for the sector in 2012 that, based on recent reports of homebuilder orders and economic trends, will only grow as the year progresses.

That has also been the experience of Brian Brunhofer, the president of Meritus Homes, a builder in Long Grove, IL that is expanding to several additional communities.

“We’re at a great point,” Brunhofer said. “We’re very excited about the future.”

A big part of that excitement, Brunhofer said, is the recent uptick in consumer confidence, which has not only generated returning interest in new construction properties, but also contributed to a greater overall perspective for consumers on where the market is heading in 2012.

“We’ve had good levels in activity so far in 2012,” Brunhofer said. “Better than the last three years.”

Public construction spending was a bit more tepid by comparison, falling 1.1 percent from February’s revised estimate of $279.1 billion. Educational construction was down 1.2 percent and highway construction was down 0.8 percent.

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