June 1, 2017

April Construction Spending Declines Sharply, But …

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:17 pm

… what is it with these huge upward revisions to prior months?

Here’s the Census Bureau’s announcement today:

Total Construction

Construction spending during April 2017 was estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1,218.5 billion, 1.4 percent (±1.0 percent) below the revised March estimate of $1,235.5 billion. The April figure is 6.7 percent (±1.5 percent) above the April 2016 estimate of $1,142.5 billion. During the first 4 months of this year, construction spending amounted to $359.5 billion, 5.8 percent (±1.3 percent) above the $339.7 billion for the same period in 2016.

Here are the original and currently revised values for January through March:

  • January, originally $1,180.3 billion, now $1,198.8 billion, an upward revision of 1.6 percent.
  • February, originally $1,192.8 billion, now $1,221.7 billion, an upward revision of 2.4 percent.
  • March, originally $1,218.3 billion, now $1,235.5 billion, an upward revision of 1.4 percent.


First-quarter construction spending (seasonally adjusted) actually increased by 3.9 percent. Annualize that, and you’re over 16 percent. People who have only looked at the initial reports would think it’s down by about 0.4 percent.

So April came in at -1.4 percent, before revisions.

Recent history would seem to predict that most if not all of that decrease will disappear.

The big question is why these big revisions, all in the same direction, are occurring.

Are the people at the Census Bureau really not getting the information they need on a timely basis (with a one-month reporting lag, that seems doubtful)? Or are they deliberately low-balling their original reporting to make sure negative or weak first-release news about the Trump economy continually hogs the headlines?


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