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U.S. construction spending up in March less than expected

U.S. construction spending up in March less than expected

SILVER SPRING, MD.—U.S. construction spending bounced back in March following a February beset by frigid cold and winter storms across large swaths of the country.

However, spending on construction projects rose just 0.2 per cent in March, the Commerce Department said Monday, significantly less than the 1.7 per cent jump economists had expected. That comes even as February’s decline was revised downward, as was January’s.

Still, through the first three months of the year, total construction spending of $328.3 billion is 4.5 per cent ahead of where it was last year.

Private construction continued to grow, up 0.7 per cent from the previous month, with residential construction up 1.7 per cent.

Private spending on construction of single-family homes rose two per cent while spending on apartments and other multi-family units declined 0.3 per cent.

Spending on government construction projects fell again as state and local governments remain cautious as falling tax revenues due to the pandemic cut into their budgets. Public project spending fell 1.5 per cent in March, with spending on schools and other educational facilities down two per cent and highway and road construction spending declining 2.2 per cent.

Housing has continued to be one of the strongest segments of the economy. In separate reports last month, sales of new homes boomed in March according to Commerce, as did construction of new homes.

Sales of new homes surged 20.7 per cent in March to the highest level since 2006, the government said. Also in March, builders began construction on new homes and apartments at the fastest pace since June 2006 during the last housing boom, the Commerce Department reported in April.

 

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