Multifamily construction spending trending lower in May

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new apartment building

The Census Bureau’s report on construction spending said that the value of multifamily residential construction put in place in May was down 0.02 percent from the revised level of the month before. Spending on single-family residential construction was reported to fall 0.7 percent while spending on improvements was up 0.30 percent.

With this release, the Census Bureau revised the seasonally adjusted data back to January 2017. Therefore, the revisions to the prior month’s data in this report may be much larger than usual.

The value of total private residential construction put in place in May 2024 was reported to be $918.2 billion on a seasonally adjusted, annualized basis. This figure, which includes spending on both new construction and on improvements, was reported to be down $2.0 billion month-over-month. This is the first significant monthly decline since April 2023. With the Census Bureau’s updates to their past data, April’s figure was revised higher by $28.8 billion. Residential construction spending in May was reported to be up 6.5 percent year-over-year.

Multifamily construction spending falls

The value of new private construction of multifamily residential buildings put in place in May was reported to be $130.8 billion on a seasonally adjusted, annualized basis. This was down $21 million from the revised level for April. However, the April figure was revised lower by $1.15 billion, so the preliminary multifamily construction spending figure reported this month is $1.17 billion, or 0.9 percent, lower than the preliminary figure for April reported last month. The reported value of multifamily housing construction put in place in May 2024 was 4.6 percent lower than the level of May 2023.

The first chart shows the difference between the levels of multifamily construction put in place reported last month and the levels reported this month. It shows that the revisions to the data in this month’s report point to a lower, and declining, pace of multifamily construction completions than was presented in last month’s report.

revisions to multifamily construction spending

For reference, the Census Bureau’s New Residential Construction report said the number of unit completions in May in buildings with 5 or more units fell 7.2 percent from the level of the month before. Completions were 0.2 percent lower than their year-earlier level.

Governments were reported to have put $12.22 billion in residential construction in place in May on a seasonally adjusted annualized basis.

The value of new single-family residential construction put in place in May was $436.6 billion on a seasonally adjusted, annualized basis. This was down $3.02 billion from the revised (+$442 million) level for April and was up 1.38 percent from the level of May 2023.

The value of improvements to residential buildings put in place in May was reported to be $350.8 billion on a seasonally adjusted, annualized basis. This was up $1.04 billion from the revised (+$30.52 billion) level for April and was up $9.62 billion from the year-earlier level. The Census Bureau does not separate out improvements for single-family and multifamily residential buildings.

Charting the data

The following chart shows the value of residential construction put in place each month since January 2012. It also shows the trend line for single-family residential construction based on growth in construction volume during the period from January 2012 to June 2018.

multifamily construction spending history with single-family construction spending history

The chart shows that the value of multifamily residential construction put in place reached its most recent high in June of last year and has been generally been trending lower since then.

While last month’s data indicated that the value of single-family construction put in place was continuing its slow climb, this month’s data shows this figure falling for the last two months.

The value of improvements put in place was revised sharply higher in the updates to past data in this month’s report. Whereas the earlier data had indicated that the value of improvements put in place had been falling, the updated data indicates that it has been rising since last November, with a 10 percent gain since then.

The report from the Census Bureau also includes information on spending on other types of construction projects. The full report can be found here.