ARLINGTON, Va. - Unitary and construction numbers edged forward in May. The combined U.S. factory shipments of central air conditioners and air-source heat pumps totaled 739,647. According to the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI), these numbers are up 8.5 percent from May 2006 shipments. The year-to-date combined U.S. factory shipments, however, totaled 2.6 million, down 17 percent from the same period last year. Heat pump shipments for May were also lower. They totaled 198,911, down 4.6 percent from May 2006 shipments. The year-to-date heat pump shipments totaled 812,619, down 14 percent from the same period last year.

Construction experienced much of the same mixed numbers bag in May. “Total construction spending climbed 0.9 percent in May, seasonally adjusted, as a 2.5 percent uptick in nonresidential spending more than offset a decline of 0.8 percent in residential construction,” said Ken Simonson, chief economist for the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC).

For the first five months of 2007, total construction was down 3.9 percent compared to the same period in 2006. During that span, nonresidential spending jumped 15 percent and residential dropped 18 percent. “Public construction rose 11 percent year-to-date,” noted Simonson. “Private residential spending remains a disaster,” he added.

According to Simonson, single-family construction skidded another 1.4 percent in May and 27 percent year-to-date. Multifamily construction and residential improvements were roughly flat for the month and the first five months combined. “I don’t foresee an improvement in these numbers before the second quarter of 2008,” predicted Simonson.

Publication date:07/23/2007