U.S. construction spending hit a near 4-1/2 year high in August, boosted by increases in both private and public outlays, a hopeful sign for third-quarter economic growth.
Construction spending increased 0.6 percent to an annual rate of $915.1 billion, the highest level since April 2009, the Commerce Department said on Tuesday.
Construction spending in July was revised to show a 1.4 percent rise instead of the previously reported 0.6 percent gain.
The report was originally scheduled for release on October 1 but was delayed after the federal government was partially shut down because of a fight over the budget. The 16-day shutdown ended last Wednesday.
Construction spending in August was lifted by a 0.4 percent rise in public construction projects. That was the fourth consecutive month of gains and came even as federal government spending on construction projects tumbled.
There was also a boost from spending on private construction projects, which increased 0.7 percent to its highest level since January 2009.
Private residential construction spending jumped 1.2 percent to a five-year high, showing little sign that high interest rates were slowing activity. Part of the increase in residential construction spending reflected home improvement projects.
Architecture Billings Keep Growing
Demand for architectural design services continued to increase in September, according to the Architecture Billings index survey conducted each month by the American Institute of Architects. At 54.3, the September score—up from 53.8 in August—shows a continued acceleration of billings and work for architecture firms. In each of the past four months, the score has come in slightly higher each time. (Scores above 50 indicate industry growth and below 50 indicate industry contraction.)
While billings are accelerating, project inquiries cooled off ever-so-slightly. At 58.6, the inquiries score is still quite high, but it is lower than the elevated score of 63.0 recorded in August. In fact, six of the nine months of 2013 have seen this score come in higher than 60.
Billings: At 54.3, up from August’s 53.8, this is the fifth straight month above 50. Eight of the nine months of 2013 have come in above 50, as have 13 of the past 14 months.
Project Inquiries: At 58.6, this score is down from 63.0 in August.
Northeast: At 50.7, down from 53.0, this is the 13th straight month above 50.
Midwest: At 51.0, down from 51.7, this is the third straight month above 50. Six of the nine months of 2013 have come in above 50 for this region.
South: At 54.1, up from 52.8, this is the 15th straight month above 50.
West: At 60.6, up from 58.2, this is the 14th straight month above 50. Looking at the past data, this also appears to be the highest score for the West region in the history of the ABI.
Multifamily Residential: At 55.6, up from 54.6, this is the 17th straight month above 50. In fact, this sector has dipped below 50 only once in the past two years.
Commercial/Industrial: At 57.9, up from 55.5, this is the 12th straight month above 50, and the highest score for the sector since November 2007.
Institutional: At 50.4, down from 50.7, this is the 14th straight month above 50.
Mixed Practice: At 55.4, down from 57.9, this is the 13th straight month above 50.