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AGC: Construction slips slightly in April

June 10, 2024
Decreases in public segments offset rise in homebuilding and manufacturing, but construction spending remains up by 10% compared to a year ago

Total construction spending inched down from March to April with declines in public projects and a mixed pattern among private residential and nonresidential categories, according to recent analysis of a new government report by the Associated General Contractors of America.

Association officials noted that construction spending levels remain well above where they were a year ago and that most firms continue to struggle to find enough qualified workers to hire.

“Overall spending slipped despite upturns in manufacturing and power construction and a slight pickup in single-family homebuilding,” Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist, said in a news release. “Most public segments continued a seesaw pattern, with decreases in April following gains in other recent months.”

Construction spending, not adjusted for inflation, totaled $2.099 trillion at a seasonally adjusted annual rate in April, ACG reported.. That figure is 0.1% below the upwardly revised March rate, but 10.0% above the April 2023 level.

Spending on private nonresidential projects declined 0.3% on balance in April but rose 8.3% year-over-year. The largest private segment, manufacturing construction, climbed 0.9% for the month and 17.1% over 12 months. Commercial construction fell 1.1% in April and was virtually unchanged from a year earlier. Investment in power, oil, and gas projects edged up 0.1% in April and rose 7.4% year-over-year.

Spending on private residential construction ticked up 0.1% for the month and 8.0% year-over-year. Single-family construction rose for the 12th month in a row, by 0.1%, and 20.4% year-over-year. Multifamily spending fell 0.3% in April but climbed 2.3% from April 2023.

Public construction spending fell 0.3% for the month but rose 16.7% from a year earlier. The largest public segment, highway and street construction, fell 0.5% in April but rose 16.4% over 12 months. Public educational spending fell 0.2% in April but rose 16.8% over the year.

Association officials said they plan to release a new report, co-authored by the Progressive Policy Institute, detailing the federal funding gap between support for collegiate education and investments in career and technical education for fields like construction. They are continuing to urge policy makers to boost funding for construction education and training programs and find new ways to allow more people to enter the country lawfully to work in construction.

“The federal government is proving to be one of the biggest obstacles to recruiting more people into the construction industry,” said Jeffrey D. Shoaf, the association’s CEO. “It is hard to be competitive when the federal government is spending significantly more resources encouraging students to go to college than what it is investing in preparing people for high-paying construction careers.”

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