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NAHB analysis of Census Construction Spending data shows that total private residential construction spending stood at a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of $550.3 billion in March. It was up 2.3% in March, after decreasing 4.8% in February. On a year-over-year basis, total private construction spending rose 8.8%.

The monthly gains are largely attributed to the growth of spending on improvements and multifamily construction. Private residential improvements, which include spending on remodeling, major replacement, and additions to owner-occupied housing units, increased to $189.0 billion annual pace in March, up 10.2% over the February estimates. Multifamily construction spending inched up 2% in March, following an increase of 1.2% in February. Spending on single-family construction slipped 2.0% in March, the first dip since July 2019, due to the virus impacts.

The NAHB construction spending index, which is shown in the graph below (the base is January 2000), illustrates the solid growth in single-family construction and home improvement from the second half of 2019 to February 2020, before the COVID-19 hit the U.S. economy. New multifamily construction spending slowed down since August 2019, after the strong growth from 2010 to 2016 and a surge from the late 2018 to early 2019.

 

Spending on private nonresidential construction declined 1.8 percent over the year to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $462.3 billion. The annual nonresidential spending decline was mainly due to less spending on the class of lodging ($4.3 billion), followed by educational category ($3.6 billion), and amusement and recreation ($2.3 billion).