U.S. construction spending is nearing its highest rate on record, according to the latest release from the Census Bureau. Construction spending increased 1% in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1.32 trillion, one of the highest rates on record (since 2002). Spending is also 1.1% above February 2018.
In 2019 alone, construction spending totaled nearly $182 billion, which is 1.4% higher than January and February of 2018 combined. Much of the climb in February is due to the large jump in public construction—$325.8 billion, 3.6% ahead of January.
Within public spending, educational construction was up 0.8% from January, and highway construction increased 9.5% from the month prior. Government construction hit an all-time high at $303 billion, states the Associated Press. Private construction was led by a 0.7% increase in residential spending, pushing total private spending to $994.5 billion in February, a 0.2% increase. Nonresidential private construction, despite a slight decline, had its best February on record.
"Construction outlays are volatile during winter months, but spending appears to be building momentum headed into the spring," states a release from Wells Fargo Securities. "The return of more typical winter weather likely dragged down spending [in the residential sector]."
Economists had expected a 0.2% drop in February, according to Reuters.
-Michael Miller, managing editor