Construction spending in September declined slightly from August's level but was up from its year-earlier total, the Commerce Dept. has reported.

Commerce’s latest monthly construction report,  released on Nov. 3, said the value of projects put in place in September was an estimated $950.9 billion, down 0.4% from August’s revised level, but a 2.9% increase from September 2013's rate.

September's estimated spending for residential building was $354.8 billion, an 0.4% gain compared with August and also up  0.7% from September 2013.

Total nonresidential construction spending slipped 1% from the previous month, but rose 4.2% year-over-year. Commerce's figures are adjusted for seasonal variations.

Private construction edged down 0.1% from August, to a $680-billion rate, but was up 3.4% over the September 2013 level.

Public construction followed a similar pattern, dipping 1.3% from the previous month’s mark but cllimbing 1.7% from its year-earlier level.

Industry economists noted noted that September's numbers represented the second-straight month-to-month spending declines.

Ken Simonson, Associated General Contractors of America chief economist, said,  “These data show that construction gains remain fragmentary and volatile, even though industry employment has been picking up in more states.”

Anirban Basu, Associated Builders and Contractors chief economist, said, "September's drop in nonresidential construction spending is disappointing given the growing momentum in the broader economy and the generally positive signals being sent by industry-specific leading economic indicators."

Among private-construction segments, Simonson pointed out, power dropped 3.1% from August's rate but was 2.3% above its year-earlier total.

In public-construction categories, September highway spending was an estimated $79.9 billion, down 3.7% from August and a 1.7% decrease from its year-earlier level.

Commerce's figures deal with finished construction. The latest report on construction starts from McGraw Hill Construction—now Dodge Data & Analytics—said the value of such projects was up 10% in September from August's total, seasonally adjusted.

(ENR also is part of Dodge Data & Analytics.)


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