The latest (February) construction spending report was released by the Census Bureau today. This report provides a "monthly estimate of total dollar value construction done in the US" for both new structures and improvements to existing structures. It also covers both public and private projects. There are several compelling structural trends about what the US is (and isn't) building anymore provided by this report.
Overall, construction spending has flatlined since the end of 2013. Since November 2013, construction spending is only about 1.5% higher.
A little more than 72% of the construction that takes place in the US is in the private sector. This is below the levels that prevailed from 1992-2005 (2005 is when this data began) . However, from January 2005 to September 2010, the relative share of building done by the public sector increased by 20%, accounting for just under 40% of all building done in the US. This trend has reversed back towards historic average levels but has moderated over the past year or so.
So what is the US currently building?
Office space construction just made a 5-year high but is still about 31% below all-time highs set in 2008.
Even though commercial construction spending has fallen for two consecutive months, it is still up over 13% YoY.
Construction put in place for transportation has nearly doubled over the past 10 years.
Manufacturing construction just jumped by nearly 7% MoM in February to a new all-time high.
What isn't being built?
Health care construction spending is almost at 9-year lows.
Education construction spending is back at 2004 levels.
Spending on religious building is the lowest on record (going back to 2002).
Communication construction spending is at 10-year lows.