WASHINGTON - Construction spending climbed 0.1% to a seasonally adjusted estimated annual rate of $807.3 billion in March, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday.
The March rate rose from the downwardly revised February estimate of $807.3 billion, originally reported as 808.9 billion. The March figure was 6.0% above the March 2011 estimate of $762.6 billion. Construction spending fell 1.4% in February.
The March spending growth fell well short of the expectations of economists polled by Thomson Reuters, who had predicted a median 0.7% increase in the rate from February to March.
Total construction spending through the first three months of 2012 was $171.2 billion, the Commerce Department said, 6.7% above the $160.4 billion spent through the first three months of 2011.
Spending on private construction was at a seasonally adjusted estimated rate of $531.9 billion in March, up 0.7% from the revised February estimate of $528.1 billion.
Residential construction was at a $244.1 billion in March, 0.7% above the revised rate of $242.5 billion for February. Nonresidential construction was at a $287.8 billion rate, 0.7% above the revised February estimate of $285.7 billion.
Public construction spending was $276.2 billion, 1.1% below the revised February estimate of $279.1 billion and the lowest figure since it was $275.1 billion in February 2007.
While federal construction spending rose 3.8% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $28.9 billion, state and local spending fell 1.6% to a $247.3 billion annual rate. It was the third consecutive monthly decline for state and local construction spending, and the lowest figure since the November 2006 rate of $241.6 billion.