Commercial construction dipped in March, even if just slightly, but remains near 5 percent higher on the year over the same time in 2016.

The figures and estimates, released May 1, come from the U.S. Department of Commerce and represent the latest data. April figures will be released at the beginning of June.

Construction dipped in March

Commercial Construction

Overall, the Commerce Department figures suggest (as compiled and analyzed by ConstructionDive):

  • Construction spending dipped 0.2% from February to March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1.218 trillion, behind the upward-revised of $1.220 trillion in February.
  • Private residential construction rose 1.2% during the period to a rate of $503.4 billion, while private nonresidential construction fell 1.3% from February to March to a rate of $436.8 billion. Within residential, single-family inched up 0.3%, while multifamily increased 2.0%. Public construction fell 0.9% during the period.
  • March’s construction spending figure is 3.6% ahead of the year-ago mark, and spending in the first three months of 2017 is 4.9% ahead of the same period last year.

“Construction spending during March was estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1,218.3 billion, 0.2 percent (±2.1 percent)* below the revised February estimate of $1,220.7 billion,” said the Commerce Department. “The March figure is 3.6 percent (±1.5 percent) above the March 2016 estimate of $1,176.4 billion. During the first 3 months of this year, construction spending amounted to $259.5 billion, 4.9 percent (±1.6 percent) above the $247.5 billion for the same period in 2016.”

The slight dip in construction spending in March seems to have come from a pull back in public construction projects, according to the Commerce Department figures. And most of that came from a 2 percent decrease in school construction.

The Commerce Departments warns against reading too much into the month-to-month data if one is looking for overall trends.

“It may take two months to establish an underlying trend for total construction and as long as eight months for specific categories of construction,” the department cautions. “The statistics in this release are estimated from several sources and surveys and are subject to sampling variability as well as nonsampling error including bias and variance from response, nonreporting, and undercoverage.”