The rate of U.S. residential construction spending hit its lowest level in four years and fell for the 20th consecutive month in October, the U.S. Census Bureau reported.

The seasonally adjusted annual rate of spending for private residential construction projects dropped to $503.7 million in October, down about 16.2 percent compared to October 2006 and down about 27.6 percent from a record peak of $696 million in February 2006.

This rate is a projection of a monthly construction-spending total over a 12-month period, adjusted to account for seasonal fluctuations in construction activity.

Total construction spending — including public and private residential and non-residential spending — dipped to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1.16 billion in October, down about 0.6 percent compared to October 2006.

During the first 10 months of the year, total construction spending amounted to an estimated $977 billion, or 2.8 percent below the same period in 2006.

Total spending for private construction — including residential and non-residential spending — fell 4.9 percent year-over-year in October to a rate of $863.2 million.

Nonresidential private construction spending reached a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $359.4 billion in October, up 17.5 percent compared to October 2006.

The rate of public construction spending grew 14.6 percent in October compared to the same month last year.

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.

Statistics in the report are estimated from several sources and surveys and are subject to sampling variability and non-sampling error including bias and variance from response, non-reporting, and under-coverage. Statistics are preliminary estimates subject to revision in following months.

November 2007 construction-spending data is scheduled for release at 10 a.m. EST on Jan. 2, 2008.

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