Heavy-engineering spending shows a major downward revision in 2011 as a result of a significant reduction in power-construction numbers. Each year the U.S. Census Bureau revises data for the previous two years based on more complete data than were available when the numbers were first reported.
Photo credit: Reed Construction Data
Construction activity was marginally better in 2010 than originally thought and was worse in 2011, according to the Census Bureau’s annual two-year revision of construction spending data. Heavy engineering construction was worse, while nonresidential was better. Heavy engineering was significantly worse in 2011, with power construction taking a huge hit.
Spending on heavy engineering (non-building) construction saw a small downward revision for 2010 -- down $1.0 billion (-0.4%) -- but a large downward adjustment for 2011 -- off $16.8 billion (-6.3%). The year-to-date seasonally adjusted annual rate average was reduced $3.6 billion (-1.3%).
The biggest and most surprising revision was the large downward adjustment for power construction spending in 2011, down $15.9 billion (-17.7%). Instead of increasing 14.4% in 2011, spending fell 5.1%. The revision of power spending for 2011 was so deep that the unadjusted April 2012 year-to-date power construction spending is actually up 42.5% over the same period in 2011, versus the pre-revision estimate of 20.3%.