Nonresidential fixed investment fell by 0.6 percent during the second quarter after expanding by 1.6 percent during the first quarter, according to the July 30 real gross domestic product (GDP) report by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). For the economy as a whole, real GDP expanded by 2.3 percent (seasonally adjusted annual rate) during the second quarter following a 0.6 percent increase during the year’s first quarter. Note that the first quarter estimate for nonresidential fixed investment was revised upward from -3.4 percent annualized growth.
“In the first half of 2015, both the broader economy and nonresidential investment lost the momentum they had coming into the year,” said Associated Builders and Contractors Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “Rather than indicating renewed progress in terms of achieving a more robust recovery, today’s GDP release indicates that a variety of factors helped to stall investment in nonresidential structures. There are many viable explanations, including a weaker overall U.S. economy, a stronger U.S. dollar, decreased investment in structures related to the nation’s energy sector, soft public spending, and uncertainty regarding monetary policy and other abstracts of public policy. While the expectation is that the second half of the year will be better, unfortunately not much momentum is being delivered by the year’s initial six months.
“Perhaps the most salient facet of this GDP release was the revisions,” said Basu. “The BEA revised the first quarter estimate upward from -0.2 percent to 0.6 percent annualized growth. This is not surprising; many economists insisted that the economy did not shrink in the first quarter. However, the BEA also downwardly revised growth figures from the fourth quarter of 2011 to the fourth quarter of 2014. Over that period, GDP increased at an average annual rate of 2.1 percent, 0.3 percentage points lower than previously thought. These revisions could be a function of the agency’s ongoing effort to tackle residual seasonality, a pattern in which seasonal adjustments led to repeated first quarter slowdowns. It will take a few more quarters to understand the full impact of the improved seasonal adjustments.”
Performance of key segments during the first quarter:
- Investment in nonresidential structures decreased at a 1.6 percent rate after decreasing at a 7.4 percent rate in the first quarter.
- Personal consumption expenditures added 1.99 percent to GDP after contributing 1.19 percent in the first quarter.
- Spending on goods grew 1.1 percent from the first quarter.
- Real final sales of domestically produced output – minus changes in private inventories – increased 2.5 percent for the second quarter after a 2.5 percent increase in the first quarter.
- Federal government spending decreased 1.1 percent in the second quarter after increasing by 1.1 percent in the first quarter.
- Nondefense spending decreased 0.5 percent after expanding by 1.2 percent in the previous quarter.
- National defense spending fell 1.5 percent after growing 1 percent in the first quarter.
- State and local government spending grew 2 percent during the second quarter after a decrease of 0.8 percent in the first.