Jan 4, 2024 - Economy

Factory construction spending booms under Biden

Data: Census Bureau via FRED; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Census Bureau via FRED; Chart: Axios Visuals

America's spending on the construction of new factories is surging.

Why it matters: The Biden administration's signature legislation — particularly the CHIPs Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law — has spurred a surge in construction spending that's buoyed the economy, as Axios' Neil Irwin reported.

By the numbers: Manufacturing-related construction hit a $210 billion annual rate in November, more than triple the average rate in the 2010s, according to Census data out this week.

  • All that spending is driving an increase in construction hiring. Job openings in construction increased by 43,000 last month, according to BLS data out yesterday — and are up by 111,000 from last year.
  • Contractors are even facing labor shortages in areas with industrial mega projects, Anirban Basu, the chief economist of the Associated Builders and Contractors, said in a release Wednesday.

The intrigue: The boom has done little for Biden politically — as most voters likely don't think about the building of new factories when they assess the condition of the economy.

  • Plus: Republican politicians have claimed credit for a lot of the construction that's happening thanks to those new laws.

What to watch: The surge in construction will eventually translate into a surge in hiring for manufacturing jobs, said Aaron Sojourner, a senior researcher at the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.

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