The rate of residential construction spending in January fell 15.1 percent in February compared to the same month last year, the U.S. Census Bureau announced today. It was the lowest rate since June 2004, and the 11th consecutive month of decline.

The seasonally adjusted annual rate of residential construction spending in February dropped to $562.4 billion in February, down about 1 percent compared to the revised January estimate of $567.9 billion. This rate is a projection of a monthly construction spending total over a 12-month period, adjusted for seasonal fluctuations in construction activity.

Total spending on private construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $884.4 billion, which is about 0.2 percent above the revised January estimate of $882.5 billion and 6 percent below the February 2006 rate. And nonresidential construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $322 billion in February, or about 2.3 percent above the revised January estimate and 15.9 percent above the February 2006 rate.

Total construction spending during February 2007 was estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1.17 trillion, which is about 0.3 percent above the revised January estimate and about 2.4 percent below the February 2006 estimate.

During the first two months of this year, construction spending amounted to $159.9 billion, which is about 2.4 percent below the $163.8 billion for the same period in 2006.

The estimated seasonally adjusted annual rate of public construction spending was $286.4 billion, in February, or about 0.4 percent above the revised January estimate and about 10.4 percent above the February 2006 rate.

Month-to-month changes in seasonally adjusted statistics often show irregular movement, the Census Bureau noted, and it can take two months to establish an underlying trend for total construction and up to eight months for specific categories of construction. Statistics are estimated from several sources and surveys and are subject to sampling variability as well as nonsampling error.

Statistics for the current month are preliminary estimates that are subject to revision in following month, according to the report.

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