May 2015 Economic Indicators

Melanie Garza - Director of Strategy & Growth

Construction has Lackluster Start to the New Year

Construction spending in the US had a disappointing first quarter with the March index, dipping 0.6% below February. Both public and private construction fell in March. As a whole, construction spending is up 2% over the same period in 2014, with some industries posting a large gain, over 2014.

Residential construction fell 1.6% from February with $349 billion spent, in March. The non-residential construction market as a whole inched up 1% in March, to $353.4 billion.

Office construction climbed 2.9% in March and is up 26.3% from 2014. In the manufacturing sector, investment climbed 2.8%, in March. The following industries are posting a significant increase from a year ago: chemical up 5.1%, in March, and 90% over 2014; non-metallic mineral up 28.3%, in March, and up 72.4% annually; transportation rose 5.8%, in March, and 40.6% higher than the previous year; Plastics fell 7% in March, but climbed 67.2% from 2014. Computers and electronic equipment continued to fall 8.6%, in March, with a decrease of 43.5%, from the previous year.

Public construction investment also dipped in March, 1.5% to $264.2 billion. Education investment dropped 2.2 % while highway construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $78 billion, 2.4% below the revised February estimate of $79.9 billion.

Economists expect construction to pick up in the spring.

GDP Falls in 1st Quarter

GDP grew just 0.2% in the first quarter, according to the “advance” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Fourth Quarter GDP climbed 2.2%, while the third quarter posted an impressive 5% jump in 2014.

The deceleration in real GDP growth in the first quarter reflected a slump in personal consumption spending, downturns in exports, smaller non-residential fixed investment, and with lower state and local government spending, and investment in residential fixed investment. Private inventory investment and federal government spending grew in the 1st quarter.

Questions or comments? Please contact Melanie Garza at