The Associated General Contractors of America's (AGC's) chief economist Ken Simonson said the nonresidential construction industry appears to be in a holding pattern based on May Census Bureau figures on construction showing a gradual decline over the three months since February, particularly for private residential building.

“Private nonresidential construction has been little changed all year. Nevertheless, the totals for January through May are a respectable six percent higher than during the same months of 2004,” Simonson said. “Public construction is also six percent ahead of 2004's pace on a year-to-date basis, with gradual expansion showing up each month.”

“Surprisingly, private residential construction has been slipping, according to the revised data. The seasonally adjusted annual rate for May was five percent lower than the record set in February, and that has dragged down the overall total,” Simonson noted. “But on a January-May basis, residential is still up a robust 13 percent from the same months of 2004.”

Simonson pointed out that Census had boosted its preliminary estimate of construction for 2004 from $1 trillion to nearly $1.03 trillion and the seasonally adjusted annual rate for April 2005, reported last month as $1.07 trillion to $1.11 trillion. “That suggests that the monthly figures for recent months may also be substantially revised in the future.”