Earlier this month, the U.S. Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce released new data regarding construction spending during the month of July 2011. As is the case with the majority of housing and construction data that we’ve encountered in recent years, the picture is mixed.
Construction spending in July 2011 stood at a robust sounding $789.5 billion, but that number is down 1.3 percent from June, which was hardly a banner month by any measure. At the same time, the silver lining is that construction investment for July of this year is up up 0.1 percent from July 2010. However the difference is so small as to hardly be worth mentioning, and should numbers be revised at a later point, we might find ourselves even.
While this is rough news for the economy, the tidings are even worse for the roughly 20 – 25 percent of construction workers by trade who currently find themselves unemployed. As Congress considers President Obama‘s 7 billion jobs plan, announced last week in a speech made to a Joint Session, it is no accident that Obama’s follow-up press conference in the Rose Garden this past Monday was punctuated by a backdrop of construction workers.
Infrastructure improvement projects, designed to rebuild the nation’s crumbling roads and bridges among other targets, are a huge feature of the jobs plan, and perhaps one of the least controversial. And judging from the Census Bureau’s own weak data, the influx of building projects could not come at a better time.