4 Jun 2012 by Jim Fickett.
On Friday the Census Bureau reported US construction spending through April. The short story is that overall spending has been more or less level so far this year: $825bn last December, and $821bn in April. In a little more detail, private residential construction might be rising but, more likely, is still bumping along the bottom, and the other two main categories balance each other, with private non-residential now pretty clearly in an uptrend, while public spending is clearly in a downtrend.
Construction spending, along with industrial production, is among the most volatile components of the economy, and so is important to watch as a barometer of overall activity. Level production does not tell us too much – note that other periods of level activity in the graph above precede both strong and weak periods of the economy. So for now this indicator is not telling us too much.