Today’s Number: -0.4%

The news on nonresidential construction

National nonresidential construction spending fell 0.4% in August, according to an Associated Builders and Contractors analysis of data by the U.S. Census Bureau. Nonresidential spending totaled $788.6 billion in August on a seasonally adjusted annualized basis, down 3.0% from August 2020. Spending declined on a monthly basis in 10 of the 16 nonresidential subcategories, with spending in transportation unchanged for the month. Private nonresidential spending was down 1.0%, while public nonresidential construction spending rose 0.5% in August. “The nonresidential construction spending data are among the most interesting to monitor as the economy continues to wrestle with COVID-19, supply chain disruptions and rampant uncertainty regarding the direction of federal policymaking,” says ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu.

“First, nonresidential construction spending dynamics are shaped by all of the major forces shaping economic outcomes today, including labor shortages, surging input prices, massive liquidity and wavering confidence,” Basu observes. “Second, despite the many challenges they have faced, contractors continued to express confidence regarding near-term prospects until recently, per ABC’s Construction Confidence Index.”

“Third, a growing number of contractors indicate that the combination of increasingly expensive labor and rising materials prices are inducing more project owners to postpone work,” Basu says. “This has manifested itself in a number of ways, including the inability of nonresidential construction spending to achieve growth and a recent decline in backlog, as measured by ABC’s Construction Backlog Indicator. As if this were not enough, a bipartisan infrastructure package that appeared set to pass is now jeopardized by jumbled political dynamics.”

SFBW Staff
sfbw@lmgfl.com
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