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Alex Carrick, Chief Economist at ConstructConnect
Alex Carrick, Chief Economist at ConstructConnect
Alex Carrick is Chief Economist for ConstructConnect. He is a frequent contributor to the Daily Commercial News and the Journal of Commerce. He has delivered presentations throughout North America on the Canadian, United States and world construction outlooks. A trusted and often-quoted source for … More »

The Sometimes Mysterious Sources for Put-in-place Construction Statistics in the U.S. and Canada

September 23rd, 2015 by Alex Carrick, Chief Economist at ConstructConnect

Article source: CMDGroup

Obtaining data on put-in-place construction activity in the U.S. and Canada isn’t quite the straightforward path one might assume it to be.

(Put-in-place statistics are like ‘progress payments’ as projects proceed. They lag ‘starts’ information that essentially captures ‘shovels-in-the-ground’ activity.)

On balance, I’d say the U.S. put-in-place statistics are a little easier to find; plus they’re timelier.

Monthly seasonally-adjusted-at-annual-rate (SAAR) and not seasonally adjusted (NSA) numbers are published by the Census Bureau at the following site:

There are series for the major components of overall construction − residential and non-residential − as well as 16 sub-categories of work within non-residential.

There are two drawbacks. Only ‘current’ (i.e., not adjusted for inflation) dollars are shown (i.e., that’s as opposed to ‘constant’ dollars) and there are no regional breakdowns on a monthly basis.

Annual regional figures, logically enough, come out after year-end.

The Census Bureau does have an additional offering that is noteworthy. At on-line site, there are links to length-of-time estimates, from start to completion, for various project and ownership (i.e., private versus public) listings.

These estimates provide a means to assess what various trends in ‘starts’ will eventually mean for put-in-place spending.

Let me now switch to Canada, where the search for similar data leads one along a truly winding walkway. In fact the likelihood of taking an inadvertent misstep and finding oneself in the bushes, about to be mauled by a digitally-rendered bear, is about 50-50.

Obtaining Canadian put-in-place numbers requires dipping into four different Statistics Canada Cansim tables to derive series on residential, non-residential building and engineering work.

(CANSIM is Statistics Canada’s on-line means to access its data base. Simply insert the table number in the ‘Search CANSIM’ box at, and click.)

Furthermore, the engineering numbers aren’t even published on their own. They are residuals.

I’ll explain this confusing twist in a moment.

Residential current- and constant-dollar numbers monthly, for total Canada and each province or territory, appear in Cansim Table 026-0017.

Residential current-dollar-only quarterly numbers for total Canada and each province or territory are available in Cansim Table 026-0013.

Non-residential building numbers – broken down by commercial, industrial and institutional – in current and constant dollars, quarterly, and for total Canada and each province or territory, are in Cansim Table 026-0016.

Total non-residential construction (referred to as ‘capital, construction’ in the text choices), only in current dollars, and for total Canada and each province or territory, can be found in Cansim Table 029-0045. The results are annuals. They come from the Capital and Repair Expenditures (CARE) survey.

If one subtracts total non-residential building from total non-residential, one obtains an engineering/civil figure (i.e., the ‘residual’ mentioned earlier.) But be aware that it can only be annual and it is only ever truly valid immediately after the findings from the CARE survey have been uploaded.

Perhaps wending one’s way through the foregoing seems a tad bothersome.

Have no fear. To derive the historical or ‘actual’ numbers in the two tables accompanying this Economy at a Glance, proper procedures were followed.

But it might be a good idea to keep this EAAG on file as a reference document.

The forecasts have been calculated by CMD-CanaData.

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Category: CMD Group

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