Construction spending during September was estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of more than $1.996 trillion, 0.4% above the revised August estimate of more than $1.988 trillion, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
The September figure is 8.7% above the September 2022 estimate of more than $1.836 billion. During the first nine months of 2023, construction spending amounted to $1,463.5 billion, 4.6% above the more than $1.398 trillion for the same period in 2022.
August’s growth also was considerably revised upward, from 0.5% to 1.0%.
Spending on private construction during September was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of more than $1.55 trillion, 0.4% above the revised August estimate of $1.549 trillion. Residential construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $872.0 billion in September, 0.6% above the revised August estimate of $866.6 billion. Nonresidential construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $683.9 billion in September, 0.1% above the revised August estimate of $683.0 billion.
“Nonresidential construction spending increased for the 16th straight month in September,” said Chief Economist Anirban Basu from Associated Builders and Contractors. “While some private categories, including power, commercial and amusement and recreation saw healthy month-over-month increases, publicly financed construction accounted for more than 72% of September’s rise. Given increased federal infrastructure spending and exorbitant financing costs for private construction, that dynamic should remain firmly in place over the coming months.”
In September, the estimated seasonally adjusted annual rate of public construction spending was $440.6 billion, 0.4% above the revised August estimate of $438.7 billion. Educational construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $94.4 billion, 1.9% above the revised August estimate of $92.7 billion. Highway construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $131.1 billion, 0.2$ below the revised August estimate of $131.4 billion.
The U.S. ended September with 431,000 construction job openings, 14.9% higher than August but down 7.5% year-over-year.
“The number of open, unfilled construction positions surged in September and currently stands at the highest level since December 2022,” Basu said. “This mirrors an increase in economywide job openings which, at 9.6 million, remains about 37% higher than at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Basu added, “There are, however, some signs of labor market improvement for contractors. The rate at which construction workers are quitting their jobs has normalized, with just 1.8% leaving their employers in September. While that’s a welcome development, labor shortages remain a pressing issue for the industry. Contractors laid off or discharged just 1.9% of workers in September, down from 2.2% in August and 2.5% in September 2022. With a majority of contractors planning to increase their staffing levels over the next six months, according to ABC’s Construction Confidence Index, labor shortages will remain a pressing issue heading into 2024.”