Construction Leads Housing, GDP Recovery

The Mortgage Corner

Pending home sales are still rising. And that’s in large part because both residential and non-residential commercial construction is in fact soaring. The U.S. Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce announced today that construction spending during July 2015 was estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1,083.4 billion, 0.7 percent above the revised June estimate of $1,075.9 billion. The July figure is 13.7 percent above the July 2014 estimate of $952.5 billion.


Graph: Calculated Risk

This is huge, and another sign that housing this year may keep average U.S. GDP growth above 3.5 percent for the rest of 2015 and beyond, as the just revised Q2 growth rate of 3.7 percent is indicating. Housing has been the sluggard as a growth component in this recovery to date, but 2015 looks like the year that it breaks out.

The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, increased 0.5 percent to 110.9 in July from an upwardly revised 110.4 in June and is now 7.4 percent above July 2014 (103.3). The index has increased year-over-year for 11 consecutive months and is the third highest reading of 2015, according to the National Association of Realtors.

On a year-over-year basis, private residential construction spending is up 16 percent. Non-residential spending is up 18 percent year-over-year, and public spending is up 6 percent year-over-year, reports Commerce.

That’s also why newly built, single-family home sales rose 5.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 507,000 units in July, according to HUD and the U.S. Census Bureau.

“This report is in line with other government data and improving builder sentiment and shows a gradual but consistent housing recovery,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “As job growth and consumer confidence continue to strengthen, the housing market should make additional gains this year.”

Economists had forecasted gross domestic product would be revised up to 3.3 percent in Q2, but business investment was stronger than expected. Business investment helped, but it was consumers, buoyed by low interest rates and inflation boosting their confidence in future jobs and rising incomes that got them spending again.

The Commerce Department said investment in nonresidential structures was revised to show an increase rather than a contraction, reflecting stronger spending on commercial and healthcare construction. Spending on residential construction, which includes brokers’ commissions, was also raised from 6.6 to 7.8 percent. More gains are likely this quarter after the Pending-Home sale report showed an increase in contracts to purchase previously owned homes (i.e., existing-homes) in July.

The large spending uptick on private construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of +1.3 percent (±1.0%). Residential construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $380.8 billion in July, 1.1 percent (±1.3%). Nonresidential construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $407.0 billion in July, 1.5 percent (±1.0%).

This can only mean more jobs are being created in construction and Professional Services in the upcoming Friday unemployment report. More good news for U.S. jobs growth, in other words.

Harlan Green © 2015

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About populareconomicsblog

Harlan Green is editor/publisher of, and content provider of 3 weekly columns to various blogs--Popular Economics Weekly and The Huffington Post
This entry was posted in Consumers, Economy, Housing, housing market, Weekly Financial News and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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