| Engineering News-Record

Construction spending continued its strong year-over-year gains, as the industry posted a 13.7% increase in July, to a $1.083.4-trillion annual rate, the Commerce Dept. has reported.

The latest monthly report from Commerce’s U.S. Census Bureau, released on Sept. 1, also showed that the value of construction projects put in place in July edged up 0.7% from June’s level.

Residential building surged 15.8% in July from its year-earlier level, to a $387.3-billion seasonally adjusted annual rate, and also was up 1.1% from June.

Private construction in July soared 16.9% year over year, and 1.3% from June, to a $787.8-billion rate.

Public–sector construction climbed 6.1% from its year-earlier level but dipped 1% from June, to a $298.5-billion rate, the Census Bureau said.

Among key construction sectors, office construction jumped 26.1% year over year, to $57.4 billion and also posted a 1.2% increase from June.

Highway and street projects gained 9.7% from their year-earlier level, to $91 billion, but declined 0.2% on a monthly basis.

Educational projects were up 3.6% from July 2014,  to $84.4 billion, but slipped 2.2% from June.

Power projects fell 11.9% from July 2014 to $91.6 billion—one of only two sectors that were down year over year— but they did rise 2.8% from the June total.

The Associated Builders and Contractors, which focuses on nonresidential construction, notes that sector grew 12.7% from July 2014, its largest 12-month spending pickup since 2008. Anirban Basu, ABC chief economist, said in a statement, "For now, the outlook for nonresidential construction remains upbeat, as the positives significantly outweigh the negatives."

Basu said that those positive signs include strong job growth, which stimulates new construction in sectors such as offices; improving auto and aeropace industries; and what he termed surprising strength in state and local government capital spending.