The rate of residential construction spending fell for the 23rd consecutive month and hit its lowest rate in about five years in January, the U.S. Census Bureau reported today.

The seasonally adjusted annual rate of spending on private residential construction projects was $455.75 billion in January, down 19.7 percent compared to the same month last year. This rate is a projection of a monthly total over a 12-month period, adjusted to account for seasonal fluctuations in construction activity.

Total construction spending, including public and private commercial and residential projects, hit a rate of $1.16 trillion in January, down 3.3 percent since January 2007.

Private residential construction spending hit a record high rate of $696.02 billion in February 2006 and has fallen every month since. The January rate was the lowest since the April 2003 rate of $452.7 billion.

Total private construction spending fell 6.4 percent in January compared to January 2007, to a rate of $827.35 billion. And total public construction reached a rate of $294.13 billion in January, up 6.6 percent compared to the same month last year.

The Census Bureau noted that month-to-month changes in the seasonally adjusted annual rate can show irregular movements, and it can take two months to establish a trend for total construction and up to eight months for categories of construction. Statistics are subject to sampling variability and nonsampling error, and may be revised in the following months as additional data becomes available.

February 2008 construction-spending data will be released at 10 a.m. EDT on April 1.


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