The housing sector is experiencing an almost equally strong surge. Residential investment was 14.4% above its pre-pandemic trend, representing $ 90 billion per year in additional activity. And that was surely limited by the shortage of houses for sale, lumber and other materials used to make them. It is set to skyrocket in the coming months, based on forward looking data such as housing starts.
Another positive point is the investment of companies in information technology. The tech industry has been relatively unscathed by the crisis. Spending on information processing equipment in the first quarter was 23 percent higher than its pre-pandemic trend, and investment in software 7.4 percent higher.
Then there are the losers.
The problems of the service industries, particularly related to travel, are well documented. Although spending on restaurants, airline tickets, concerts and other recreational activities increased in the first quarter, it was a considerably smaller increase than that allocated to physical items, and not large enough to fill the deep hole. that these sectors are facing. Spending on transport services remains 23% lower than its pre-pandemic trend, leisure services 31% and restaurants and hotels 19%.
These three sectors alone account for $ 430 billion in ‘missing’ economic activity – much the same, it should be noted, as the combined shift in economic activity towards durable goods and residential real estate. .
A corollary appears in the commercial data. Exports of services are down 26% from the pre-pandemic trend, which largely reflects the freeze on global travel.
The sharp decline in the energy sector is less widely understood.
There are two sides of the same coin: Consumer spending on gasoline and other energy goods is down 11% from its pre-pandemic trendline. And corporate spending on structures is down 19%, reflecting a decline in investment in the oil extraction industry and the commercial real estate sector.
On the other hand, the decline of state and local governments, many of which have faced funding challenges, is real. Their spending is 4.3% lower than the pre-pandemic trend of an additional $ 89 billion in lost business, although that will likely come back as federal stimulus dollars flow into their coffers and schools reopen.