US builders boost September spending 0.6 percent

Associated Press Modified: November 1, 2012 at 10:33 am •  Published: November 1, 2012
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WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. builders spent more on home construction in September, a gain that helped offset weakness in nonresidential building and government projects.

Construction spending grew 0.6 percent compared to August when spending had fallen 0.1 percent, the Commerce Department said Thursday.

The strength in September came from a 2.8 percent rise in home building. Spending on commercial projects such as office buildings and shopping centers fell 0.1 percent and spending on government projects was down 0.8 percent, the third monthly decline.

The September increase pushed construction spending to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $851.6 billion, 14.1 percent higher than a 12-year low hit in February 2011. But even with the gain, construction is at roughly half the level considered healthy.

Spending on residential construction climbed to an annual rate of $285.9 billion in September, up 20.9 percent from a year ago. Single-family construction, the biggest part of the market, was up 25.7 percent over the past year while apartment construction was up 48.9 percent.

That strength stood in contrast to spending on commercial projects such as office buildings, shopping centers and hotels, which was down 0.1 percent in September to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $294.6 billion. Spending on office buildings, shopping centers and hotels all fell in September.

Spending on government projects dropped for a third month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $271.1 billion, 4.2 percent lower than a year ago. That reflects the budget squeeze being felt at all levels of government.

For September, spending on state and local construction projects was down 0.3 percent to an annual rate of $247.7 billion while spending on federal government projects dropped 6.2 percent to an annual rate of $23.4 billion.