Pace of U.S. Construction Spending Growth Slowed in '17

Figures released Thursday morning showed that, even with solid U.S. economic growth, construction spending south of the border rose in 2017 by the least in six years, as nonresidential building slowed and outlays by governments declined.

The U.S. Commerce Department reported that the value of construction put in place increased 3.8% to $1.23 trillion last year. That’s the smallest gain since a 2.6% drop in 2011. Spending for December was up 0.7% from the previous month, exceeding the median estimate of economists for a 0.4% increase.

Private non-residential construction rose just 0.6% last year, compared with a 10.6% increase in residential building. The slow gain in the former category was driven by declines in construction related to power and manufacturing.

Public construction spending fell 2.5% last year to $279.8 billion, as state and local governments trimmed outlays. The report showed declines were sharpest in the categories of highways and streets; power; sewage and waste disposal; and water supply.