The rate of residential construction spending fell behind its year-ago level in April despite inching up from March, the U.S. Census Bureau reported today.

Last month’s $1.19 billion seasonally adjusted rate of construction spending was 2 percent lower than the April 2006 estimate of $1.21 billion but was up slightly from March’s estimate of $1.18 billion, 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.

During the first four months of 2007, construction spending amounted to $345.1 billion, approximately 2.5 percent below the $353.8 billion for the same period in 2006.

Spending on private construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $898.9 billion, down just 0.1 percent from the revised March estimate of $899.9 billion, while private residential construction dropped 1 percent between March and April to $563 billion.

In April, the estimated seasonally adjusted annual rate of public construction spending was $291 billion, up 0.7 percent from the revised March estimate of $289.1 billion. Educational construction rose 0.7 percent from March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $76.4 billion in April, while highway construction edged up 0.3 percent during the period to $80.2 billion.

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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