Construction spending slipped 0.3 percent in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1.12 billion, the Census Bureau reported last week. The drop was the fifth straight monthly decline. Year-to-date spending in the first two months of 2008 was 2.6-percent lower than in January-February 2007. Residential construction sagged 0.9 percent for the month and 20 percent YTD.
Private nonresidential spending inched down 0.1 percent in February but was up 16 percent YTD.
Public nonresidential spending rose 0.5 percent and 6.6 percent. Growth in some categories held steady in the first two months of 2008 or even accelerated from 2007, while others slowed markedly. Educational construction rose 15 percent YTD, compared to 14 percent from 2006 to 2007; power, 30 percent vs. 27 percent; manufacturing, 30 percent vs. 10 percent; transportation facilities, 14 percent vs. 16 percent; lodging, 49 percent vs. 65 percent. In contrast, commercial (retail, warehouse and farm) rose 1.2 percent YTD vs. 13 percent in 2007; highway, 3.9 percent vs. 7.0 percent; office, 8.7 percent vs. 19 percent; health care, 4.2 percent vs. 14 percent. Among private residential categories, new single-family construction fell 33 percent YTD vs. 27 percent; new multi-family, -20 percent vs. -7.5 percent; and improvements, +10 percent vs. +0.4 percent..
BMW announced on March 10 that it will invest $750 million in its Spartanburg, S.C., auto factory to add 1.5 million square feet and 500 new jobs on site to produce three models and to increase production capacity to 240,000 units by 2012.