U.S. construction drops for first time in five months

U.S. construction spending fell by the largest amount in a year in July, largely because consumers stopped commissioning home improvement projects, according to data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Commerce.

Construction spending reached a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $834.4 billion in July, 0.9 percent below June’s figure and the first decline since February 2012.

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Spending on residential construction projects fell 1.6 percent month-over-month, while outlays on non-residential building fell 0.6 percent. The residential drop came on the back of a 5.5 percent drop in spending on home improvements, as new single-family building and new multi-family spending actually rose by 1.5 percent and 2.8 percent, respectively, on a monthly basis.

But compared to July 2011 figures total spending, residential spending and non-residential spending were up 9.3 percent, 17.6 percent and 5.7 percent, respectively. Year-to-date spending also remains 9.3 percent above last year’s pace, totaling $464.4 billion.

Private construction accounted for $558.7 billion of the adjusted annual total, which was 1.2 percent less than June’s estimate. — Adam Fusfeld