Under Hood of U.S. Construction Spending Is Government Pullback

Here’s one key takeaway from the Commerce Department’s report Wednesday on U.S. construction spending in January. Outlays dropped 1 percent from the previous month (forecast was for 0.6 percent rise), the biggest drop since April, which will drag on first-quarter gross domestic product.

* Public construction spending fell 5 percent, the biggest decrease since March 2002, to the lowest level since March 2014 * Spending declined in the two largest public categories, highways and education, as well as in transportation, sewage, public safety and health care * State and local agencies spent 4.8 percent less in January, while the federal government’s outlays dropped 7.4 percent * Private construction rose 0.2 percent to the highest level since 2006; private residential construction was up 0.5 percent

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