The rate of residential construction spending dropped about 14.2 percent in March compared to the same month last year, while the rate for all construction spending fell about 2 percent, the U.S. Census Bureau reported today.

The seasonally adjusted annual rate of construction spending reached $1.19 trillion in March, according to the report. This rate is a projection of a monthly total over a 12-month period, adjusted for seasonal fluctuations in construction activity.

For the first three months of the year, total construction spending was $250.3 billion, which is about 2.4 percent below spending during the same period last year.

Spending on private construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $900.3 billion in March, down 5.1 percent compared to March 2006. The rate for private residential construction spending was $568.8 million, down 14.4 percent compared to March 2006.

The private nonresidential spending rate in March 2007 was $331.5 million, up 16.5 percent compared to the same month a year ago.

The rate of public construction spending was $287.5 billion in March, up 9 percent compared to March 2006.

Month-to-month changes in seasonally adjusted statistics often show irregular movements, the Census Bureau reported, 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 such as bias and variance from response, nonreporting and undercoverage. Statistics are subject to revision in following months.

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