2011 Heavy-Engineering Spending Takes Big Hit in Revisions

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%.

(More on annual construction-spending revisions . . . )