November 1 Both construction spending and manufacturing activity expanded in recent months, suggesting that the economy is growing gradually, if unevenly from sector to sector.
September construction spending rose 0.5% above August, but remained 1.9% below the spending rate in September 2009, reported the U.S. Census Bureau.
During the first nine months of the year, construction spending totaled $612.6 billion, 11.2% below the $689.9 billion for the same period in 2009.
Private construction for September remained unchanged from August.
Residential construction for the period declined 1.8%.
Non-residential construction was down 1.6%.
Public construction was 1.3% above August.
Educational construction was 1.6% higher.
Highway construction fell 0.1% for the period.
Despite recent gains, construction spending remains well below the1,152 billion expenditure in 2007.
U.S. manufacturing expanded in October for the fifteenth consecutive month, as measured by the Institute for Supply Management's (ISM) factory index. The index rose two and a half points to hit 56.9 last month, the highest level since May. Any reading above 50 indicates growth.
Both new orders and production made strong gains. Of 18 manufacturing industries surveyed, 14 reported growth in October. Survey respondents noted the recovery in autos, computers and exports as key drivers of growth, according to the ISM report.
"Since hitting a peak in April, the trend for manufacturing has been for slower growth," said Norbert J. Ore, chair of the ISM Manufacturing Business Survey Committee. "However, this month's report signals a continuation of the recovery that began 15 months ago, and its strength raises expectations for growth in the balance of the quarter."