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Jobs and construction spending: Let us off this merry-go-round

By Joe Yovino

Just when you thought there were signs of life springing up in the construction market, leave it to the Commerce Department to pull the plug.

Two separate reports out today show we’re not done yet with the construction industry doldrums.

The Commerce Department’s monthly report for February, released today, shows construction spending dropped to its lowest level in eight years. Projects around the nation fell 1.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $846.23 billion. That’s the lowest level since November 2002.

The drop in spending came across the board: It fell for homebuilding, hotels, and big government public works projects, such as highways and streets.

It was the fourth month in a row that construction spending fell.

Back on the home front, a report from the Department of Workforce Development shows unemployment is up in five Wisconsin metro areas.

Unemployment rates rose last month in the Eau Claire, Fond du Lac, Oshkosh-Neenah, Racine and Wausau areas. Rates stayed about even in the Appleton, Green Bay and the Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis areas and fell slightly in the Janesville, La Crosse, Madison and Sheboygan areas.

In total, the unemployment rate for Wisconsin was 9.7 percent in February, up from 9.6 percent in January.

No jobs equals no spending, which then equals no new jobs, which then equals no new spending.

It’s a depressing circle, and one that’s tough to stop.

Joe Yovino is the Web editor at The Daily Reporter. He’ll be happy if he never has to read another Commerce Department report.

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