Spending on most categories of nonresidential and multifamily construction declined from February to March as contractors struggled to find enough workers and get timely deliveries of materials, according to an analysis the Associated General Contractors of America released on May 2.
Association leaders urged Washington officials to end tariffs on construction materials and widen the opportunities for gaining the skills for rewarding careers in construction.
“Contractors continue to report strong demand for most types of structures, with few owners canceling or postponing planned projects,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “But worker shortages and supply-chain problems, from lockdowns in China to the war in Ukraine, are slowing project completions.”
The group said construction spending in March totaled $1.73 trillion at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, 0.1 percent above the upwardly revised February rate and 11.7 percent higher than in March 2021. Private residential construction spending accounted for all the increase in the latest month, rising 1.0 percent for the month and 18.4 percent from March 2021.
In contrast, private nonresidential construction spending slumped 1.2 percent from February, although the March total was 8.5 percent higher than in March 2021. Public construction spending slipped 0.2 percent for the month but increased 1.7 percent from the year-ago level.
Association officials said solving the materials and labor supply problems will require both short- and long-term action by officials in Washington. They urged President Biden to end tariffs restricting supplies and raising prices for lumber, steel, and aluminum products. To improve the labor supply, they called for more funding of career and technical education and recognition of a broader range of apprenticeship programs.