Fresh data shows what was largely expected from the construction industry: a continued increase in spending.
The February figures released today by the Commerce Department continue the trend from January. Construction in the manufacturing sector has been booming — up over 54% over the 12 months since January 2022.
There are advantages to building out manufacturing capacity in the U.S. and relying less on global supply chains.
“It makes sense oftentimes to make more here,” said Chad Moutray, chief economist at the National Association of Manufacturers. “You can control quality a little bit better. You don’t have some of the logistics challenges.”
Moutray says it helps that policymakers have been encouraging manufacturers to expand.
“We had the CHIPS and Science Act, which is encouraging a lot more semiconductor production in the U.S.,” he said. “The Inflation Reduction Act encourages a lot of particularly battery production in the EV market to take place here.”
That said, domestic manufacturing has a long way to go before the U.S. can start relying on its own products, according to Teresa Fort, a professor at Dartmouth.
“Imports are a lot higher than they were prior to COVID,” she said. “And so that does not suggest a lot of re-shoring or a lot of replacement of foreign goods by U.S. firms.”
Meanwhile, Fort said U.S. manufacturers are still struggling to find workers, and that labor costs are high.
That means building out more manufacturing in the U.S. will be pretty expensive.
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