Figures Don’t Lie, But Governments Do!

MaxedoutMama’s post about construction spending made me look at the story in the WSJ and I found the same error she posts about.

U.S. construction spending increased by 0.3% at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1.171 trillion, the Commerce Department said Friday. Spending fell 0.5% in January;

Here are the numbers from MoM

Total All Categories
Jan 2006..: 1,194,547
Feb 2006..: 1,199,873

Nov 2006..: 1,181,274
Dec 2006..: 1,189,308
Jan 2007..: 1,180,212 (YoY -14,335)
Feb 2007..: 1,170,817 (YoY -29,056)

(Actually down 2.5% from Feb., 2006 and down from January, 2007)

Residential construction spending fell by 1.0% to $570.9 billion, after January’s 1.8% drop. Year-over year, residential was 15% lower (Correct!).

Residential
Jan 2006..: 661,423
Feb 2006..: 662,557

Nov 2006..: 592,076
Dec 2006..: 586,088
Jan 2007..: 575,387
Feb 2007..: 562,404 (Actually fell 2.25% from January, 2007)

Nonresidential-construction spending increased by 1.5% in February. Outlays rose for hotels, factories, other commercial structures, and roads but fell for conservation facilities.

Non-Residential
Jan 2006..: 277,893
Feb 2006..: 277,777

Nov 2006..: 311,586
Dec 2006..: 319,002
Jan 2007..: 318,865
Feb 2007..: 321,976 (Actually up 1% from January, 2007 and up 11.6% from Feb., 2006!)

As MoM points out it isn’t a case of using seasonal or not-seasonal adjustments, because their not-seasonal adjustments show total construction spending down 2.5%! Is it a case of government lying to us to make things look better than they are? After all who but bloggers would actually look at the figures and put a calculator to the numbers?

Construction Spending Economy Mover Mike

One Response to “Figures Don’t Lie, But Governments Do!”

  1. Figured it out. It’s the seasonal adjustment applied against a downwardly revised Jan number.

    Of course, that’s why you shouldn’t compare revised to non-revised, because the interpolative figures usually swing the same way. It will be interesting to see next month’s figures. It’s hardly a positive that Jan was revised down so significantly. It’s a negative.

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