US construction spending up 0.3 per cent in September

HOLD FOR SWAYNE HALL -- In this Friday, Oct. 6, 2017 photo, workers build an apartment and retail complex in Nashville, Tenn. On Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017, the Commerce Department reports on U.S. construction spending in September. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

WASHINGTON - U.S. construction spending increased 0.3 per cent in September as the biggest advance in government building activity in four months offset weakness in other areas.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that the September gain followed a tiny 0.1 per cent rise in August and declines in June and July.

Despite a slump in homebuilding this year, economists remain optimistic that the low level of unemployment will soon spark a rebound in sales and construction. The overall economy grew at a 3 per cent annual rate in the third quarter, even though residential construction was down for the second straight quarter.

All of the strength in Wednesday's report came from a 2.6 per cent increase in government construction with state and local activity up 2.5 per cent and federal spending up 3.4 per cent.

Residential housing showed no increase, while non-residential construction dropped 0.8 per cent, its fourth straight monthly decline.

Overall spending was $1.22 trillion at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, a gain of 2 per cent from a year ago.

In the non-residential area, office construction was down 1.1 per cent and the category that includes shopping centres was down 1 per cent.

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