Did the housing market affect negatively economic growth in 2015Q1?

Recent news on GDP 2015Q1 have many economists wondering about the possible domestic causes for such a negative growth (-.7%). The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) did not hesitate in pointing out towards Investment in non-residential structures, which decrease 20%. Perhaps, data on housing market from both Construction Spending and Existing Home Sales might advance clues on what is going on in the U.S. economy currently. First, preliminary data on Construction Put in Place might shed light into what BEA signaled earlier, and data on Existing Housing Sales may complement an explanation, at least for as far as to the domestic economic dynamic concerns.


First, the Total Value of Residential Construction Put in Place in the U.S. economy decreased by 1.8% when comparing April 2014 to the most recent estimated statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau for April 2015. The estimated value for Private Residential Construction in April 2015 was roughly 353,086 million dollars, which totals 7,740 million less put in place than in April 2014. In spite of the decrease during April, official at the U.S. Census Bureau stated that “during the first 4 months of this year, construction spending amounted to $288.7 Billion, 4.1 percent (+/-1.5) above $277.3 Billion for the same period 2014”.


Perhaps the deceleration for the sector is being brought by Residential and Power sectors. The preliminary value of construction put in place for Residential and Power -type of constructions- went down during April 2015 inasmuch of -6,417 and -11,657 million dollars correspondingly, much of which came from a decrease of roughly 7,850 million dollars less pertaining the private sector and -3,808 million dollars less from the public sector. Though, the overall account got offset by increases in Manufacturing, Transportation and Commercial.


Since most of Construction Spending indicators went up in April 2015p, the question to ask economists is to whether or not the housing market actually slowed down economic growth during the first quarter of 2015; at least for the domestic side of the U.S. economy. Construction growth in Lodging and Commercial industries went up both by 17%, while Offices and Recreation related constructions did so by roughly 20% (April 2014 compared to April 2015p).


Data Source: U.S. Census Bureau. Data Overview: “The Value of Construction Put in Place Survey (VIP) provides monthly estimates of the total dollar value of construction work done in the U.S. The United States Code, Title 13, authorizes this program. The survey covers construction work done each month on new structures or improvements to existing structures for private and public sectors. Data estimates include the cost of labor and materials, cost of architectural and engineering work, overhead costs, interest and taxes paid during construction, and contractor’s profits. Data collection and estimation activities begin on the first day after the reference month and continue for about three weeks. Reported data and estimates are for activity taking place during the previous calendar month. The survey has been conducted monthly since 1964”.

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