Spending on private residential construction increased 1.6 percent from February to March and was 8.6 percent higher than in March 2005, the U.S. Census Bureau announced today.

Meanwhile, total construction spending reached a seasonally adjusted annual rate of about $1.2 trillion in March, up 0.9 percent from February and 8.4 percent from March 2005.

The seasonally adjusted annual rate is a projection of a monthly total over a 12-month period, adjusted for seasonal fluctuations in construction activity.

During the first 3 months of this year, construction spending amounted to about $253.5 billion, or 9.2 percent above first-quarter 2005.

Spending on private construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of about $940.8 billion, which is 1.1 percent above the revised February estimate. Residential construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of about $672.9 billion in March. Nonresidential construction spending was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of about $267.9 billion in March, which is 0.1 percent below the revised February estimate.

In March, the estimated seasonally adjusted annual rate of public construction spending was about $258.2 billion, or 0.2 percent above the revised February estimate.

Educational construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of about $68.6 billion, or 0.8 percent below the revised February estimate. Highway construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of about $69.4 billion, or 0.4 percent below the revised February estimate.

The Census Bureau noted that month-to-month changes in seasonally adjusted statistics can show irregular movements. It may take two months to establish an underlying trend for total construction, for example, and as long as eight months for specific categories of construction.

Statistics are estimated from several sources and surveys and are subject to sampling variability as well as non-sampling error including bias and variance from response, non-reporting, and under-coverage, the Census Bureau noted. Statistics for the current month are preliminary estimates subject to revision in following months.

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