US construction output grows +5.6%

By Chris Sleight10 February 2015

US construction output totalled US$ 961 billion in 2014, according to the US Census Bureau. This was a +5.6% increase on 2013, and the highest the figure has been since 2008.

The main area of growth last year was the private non-residential market, which was up +5.3% year-on-year. This was despite a -0.2% decline in activity in December compared to November.

On the other hand, publicly funded construction was up +1.1% month-on-month from November to December, and it was also up on a year-on-year basis by +6.7%.

Meanwhile private residential construction was up +0.3% from November to December, but was down -4.0% compared to a year earlier. However, taking 2014 as a whole, the private residential market was up +4.1%.

Commenting on the figures, Ken Simonson, chief economist at the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) trade association said, “For the first time in nearly a decade there was growth in all three major construction segments—public, private non-residential and residential. If the president and Congress can work out a way to pay for long-term investments in our aging infrastructure, there is a good chance this pattern will repeat in 2015."

He added, "The hottest segments in 2014 as a whole were warehouses, which leaped +50%, and multifamily (residential construction), which climbed +34%. Both of these categories should do well again in 2015."

Other private non-residential segments that grew steeply in 2014 included offices (+24%), manufacturing (+16%), power, including oil and gas pipelines and field work (+14%), and commercial—retail, warehouse and farm (+13%).

The two biggest public construction segments both grew in 2014 - highways and streets (+4.1%) and education (+1.2%). In addition, public spending on transportation facilities such as transit, airport and ports rose +4.9%.

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