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Stimulus Funding, Residential Building Drive April's 10-Year Peak In Monthly Construction Outlays

April’s strong construction-spending rebound tallied a 2.7 percent increase, i.e., $23 billion from March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $869 billion--comprising the largest monthly increase in 10 years--according to the latest AGC analysis of federal spending figures

Source: Associated General Contractors of America, Arlington, Va.

April's strong construction-spending rebound tallied a 2.7 percent increase, i.e., $23 billion from March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $869 billion--comprising the largest monthly increase in 10 years--according to the latest AGC analysis of federal spending figures. The association notes that gains were driven primarily by private residential construction (up 4.4 percent) and public construction (up 2.4 percent); yet, private nonresidential also increased significantly (up 1.7 percent).

The stimulus is clearly driving one of the biggest increases in construction spending the industry has experienced in a long time, observes AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson. Once you look beyond the stimulus, however, these figures show how uneven and fragile the construction recovery remains.

Simonson reports that the stimulus drove sizable increases compared to March, 2010, in a range of public-construction categories, e.g., spending on public drinking water supply facilities jumped 7.9 percent; public sewage treatment, 3.9 percent; and, highway construction, 3.6 percent. Spending on other public transportation modes was flat for the month, but soared 29 percent compared to April 2009. In contrast, public educational construction spending, which received little stimulus support, edged up only 0.4 percent for the month to a level 18 percent lower than a year earlier.