The residential construction spending rate dropped 17.6 percent in May compared to the same month last year, the U.S. Census Bureau announced today, falling for the 15th consecutive month and reaching its lowest level since April 2004.

Residential construction spending fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $549 million in May, compared to $665.9 million in May 2006, according to the report. This rate is a projection of a monthly total over a 12-month period, adjusted for seasonal variations in construction activity.

The adjusted annual rate of spending for all types of construction reached $1.18 trillion in May, down 2.8 percent compared to the May 2006 estimate of $1.21 trillion.

For the first five months of the year, total construction spending amounted to $442.1 billion, down 3.9 percent compared to the same period last year. And residential spending dropped 18.7 percent from January through May this year compared to the same period last year.

Spending on private construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $892.1 billion, down about 6.5 percent compared to May 2006. The rate of nonresidential construction spending was $343.1 billion in May, up 18.9 percent compared to May 2006.

The estimated seasonally adjusted annual rate of public construction spending was $284.5 billion in May, up 11.3 percent compared to May 2006. Educational construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $79.7 billion and highway construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $76.4 billion.

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

Monthly statistics are preliminary estimates subject to revision in following months as additional data become available. The statistics are subject to sampling variability and error from bias, variance from response, non-reporting and under-coverage.

June 2007 construction-spending data will be released at 10 a.m. EDT on July 31, 2007.

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