The rate of private construction spending on residential projects dropped 1.1 percent from March to April, and rose 7.1 percent compared to April 2005, the U.S. Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce announced today.

The seasonally adjusted annual rate of total construction spending in April 2006 was about $1.2 trillion, a 0.1 percent drop from the revised March estimate and 8.5 percent above the April 2005 estimate. 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 four months of this year, construction spending amounted to about $349.3 billion, or 8.9 percent above the $320.6 billion for the same period in 2005.

Spending on private construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of about $933.3 billion, or 0.1 percent below the revised March estimate of $934.2 billion. Residential construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of about $657.1 billion in April.

Nonresidential construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of about $276.2 billion in April, or 2.5 percent above the revised March estimate of $269.5 billion.

The estimated seasonally adjusted annual rate of public construction spending was about $262.6 billion in April, or 0.2 percent below the revised March estimate of $263.1 billion. Educational construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of about $67.5 billion, or 1.2 percent below the revised March estimate of $68.3 billion. Highway construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of about $72.9 billion, which is 0.4 percent above the revised March estimate of $72.6 billion.

The announcement noted that month-to-month changes in seasonally adjusted statistics can show irregular movements. It can 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, according to the report.

Statistics for the current month are preliminary estimates subject to revision in following months as additional data become available. In the May 2006 press release, normal revisions to the unadjusted and seasonally adjusted data will revise back to January 2003, according to the report.

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