Although the total value of public and private construction spending ticked higher in September, spending on residential construction fell for the 19th straight month, according to data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau.

In the private sector, residential construction spending sank 1.4 percent between August and September, falling to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $511.4 billion compared with $518.6 billion in August. The rate is a projection of a monthly construction spending total over a 12-month period, adjusted to account for seasonal variations in construction spending.

Total spending for the public and private sectors during September rose to an estimated seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1.16 trillion, up 0.3 percent from the revised August estimate of $1.159 trillion. September’s estimate, however, is still 0.8 percent below the year-ago estimate of $1.17 trillion. During the first nine months of this year, total construction spending amounted to $872.2 billion, 3.2 percent below the $901 billion for the same period in 2006.

Spending on nonresidential construction, which includes hotels, healthcare facilities and other commercial space, was up 1.5 percent from August’s level to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $357.7 billion compared with $352.4 billion.

For all private construction as a whole, however, the seasonally adjusted annual rate dipped 0.2 percent between August and September — from $871 billion to $869 billion.

Spending on public construction, which includes educational facilities and highways, rose to $293.8 billion in September, up 1.9 percent from August’s seasonally adjusted annual rate of $288.2 billion.

Educational construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $84.6 billion, 2.3 percent above the revised August estimate of $82.7 billion. Highway construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $76 billion, 0.3 percent above the revised August estimate of $75.8 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 in the spending report are estimated from several sources and surveys and are subject to sampling variability and nonsampling error. Statistics for the current month are preliminary estimates subject to revision.

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