US construction spending rises 1.1 per cent in October; homes and schools drive gains by Josh Boak, The Associated Press Posted Dec 2, 2014 2:49 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email FILE – In this Oct. 9, 2014 file photo, a man works on the roof of a building under construction in Middlefield, Ohio. The Commerce Department reports on U.S. construction spending in October on Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File) WASHINGTON – Newly built homes and schools boosted U.S. construction spending in October to the highest level since May.The Commerce Department said Tuesday that construction spending rose a seasonally adjusted 1.1 per cent in October, after having slipped 0.1 per cent in September.Fueling the gains in October was a 1.8 per cent increase in spending on single-family houses. A similar boost in building schools led to a 2.3 per cent increase in government construction spending. Meanwhile, private construction of power plants and commercial centres slipped in October.Building activity has been slowly improving for much of 2014, although its contribution to broader economic growth has been relatively modest. Homebuilding has crept upward, limited by meagre wage gains that have barely outpaced inflation. That has cut into the amount of money that people have to spend on homes or rent.Diane Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial, called the report “welcome news” but cautioned that single-family house construction “remains a shadow of previous levels.”“This is showing up in less construction employment and a smaller acceleration in wages than we would like given the age of this recovery, which in dog years is well into middle age,” Swonk said.October’s solid growth in homebuilding underlines that sector’s weakness.“The October rebound does not undo the damage” caused by the marked slowdown in construction spending since the start of 2014, said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.Over the past 12 months, private residential construction spending has risen just 1.9 per cent to a rate of $353.8 billion. That lags behind total construction spending, which has climbed 3.3 per cent from a year ago to $971 billion.New-home sales have risen only 1 per cent, according to a separate Commerce Department report. Builders are largely targeting wealthier buyers. That can boost profits but often means less construction to fuel economic growth. The median price of a new home has risen 15.4 per cent in the past 12 months to $305,000, a pace that’s more than double the average annual price increase for sales of existing homes tracked by the National Association of Realtors.Still, builders are hiring at a slightly faster clip than last year. Construction companies are adding an average of 14,000 workers a month so far this year, compared with a monthly average of 11,083 in 2013. The challenge is that stronger hiring and economic growth during 2014 has yet to translate into the wage growth that could further propel construction spending and hiring.And because Tuesday’s report contained upward revisions to August and September construction spending, the sector likely fed into faster overall economic growth. The revisions suggest that gross domestic product rose at an annual rate of 4.1 per cent during the July-September quarter, rather than the 3.9 per cent figure recently reported by the Commerce Department, said Daniel Silver, an analyst at JPMorgan Chase.Architectural firms are also reporting greater demand for their services, however, a sign that construction spending should improve in the months ahead.The American Institute of Architects said that its October billings index was 53.7. Any score above 50 indicates that billings increased. A breakdown of the index suggests that municipal governments and nonprofits are spending more on architectural designs, after having kept their spending in check during the more than five-year recovery from the Great Recession.
Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedHigh Court grants stay halting Magistrates’ Court from hearing charges against Singh, BrassingtonMay 21, 2018In “Court”Lawyers make submissions for SOCU misconduct charges to be thrown outSeptember 29, 2018In “Court”SOCU misconduct charges: Singh, Brassington’s legal challenge delayedOctober 23, 2018In “Court” Justice Franklin Holder has indicated that he will pass a ruling on the application of whether the Magistrates’ court proceedings brought against Winston Brassington and Dr Ashni Singh by the Government, on May 21, 2018 will be stayed pending the outcome of the challenge of the validity of the “misconduct in public office” charges at the High Court.File photo: (L) Former Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh and former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NICIL Winston Brassington leaving the court with some of their lawyersOn April 12, 2018, The Special Organized Crime Unit (SOCU) instituted legal proceedings against former Finance Minister, Dr Singh and former National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) CEO Brassington for what it says is “misconduct in public office: contrary to common law” as it pertains to the sale of three plots of State land.However, former Attorney General under the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government, Anil Nandlall in challenging these matters for what the defence contends are frivolous charges, filed the two High Court actions seeking to have an interim stay of proceedings in the Magistrates’ Courts and to have the charges against Singh and Brassington quashed.On May 2, 2018, Justice Holder heard the challenge for an interim stay of proceedings in the Magistrates’ Courts.Having heard both sides, the Judge then gave SOCU’s lawyers one week to show why he should not grant Nandlall’s application.Singh’s and Brassington’s legal team included Senior Counsel Stanley Moore, Sase Gunraj, Ronald Burch-Smith and Mark Waldron.Following the in-chambers hearing, Nandlall, along with his legal team, told reporters that “We are challenging the legality and validity of the charges and that will take some time to determine; in the meantime, we want an interim order staying the hands of the Magistrate from going forward, so the hearing for that has commenced.Senior Counsel and former Speaker of the National Assembly, Ralph Ramkarran is of the view that the charges may be unconstitutional on the basis that Singh and Brassington were not “public officers” in accordance with the Constitution.Various lawyers have also recently pointed out that using the definitions of “public officer”, “public office,” and “public service” as defined in Article 232 of the Guyana Constitution would exclude both Singh and Brassington, from the charges of “Misconduct in Public Office: Contrary to the Common Law.”It was posited that this was “an open-and-shut case”, as neither Singh nor Brassington are “public officers” and as such, the law under which they are charged (based on both the Constitution and legal precedents all the way to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ)) cannot be applied to them.After the SOCU charges were filed, Nandlall on behalf of PPP/C Members of Parliament (MPs) took to the court to have Public Health Minister Volda Lawrence and former Public Health Minister, Dr George Norton charged with the same offence.Ministers David Patterson, Winston Jordan and Dr Rupert Roopnaraine were also subsequently charged with the same offence.However, all of those charges were discontinued by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), a move which Nandlall contends is unfair as he continues to oppose the decision.As it pertains to the charges in the Magistrates’ Court, Singh and Brassington are expected to return on June 5, for reports.