US construction spending flat as commercial building falls

In this Feb. 26, 2018, photo, construction workers work on a new townhouse in Wood-Ridge, N.J. On Thursday, March 1, 2018, the Commerce Department reports on U.S. construction spending in January. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

WASHINGTON - Spending on U.S. construction projects was unchanged in January, held back by a sharp fall in commercial real estate building.

The Commerce Department said Thursday that spending on the construction of single-family homes rose 0.6 per cent, while apartment building fell. Construction of commercial projects, such as office towers and malls, fell 2.7 per cent. Construction spending on new power plants plunged 6.2 per cent.

Construction spending rose in 2017 at the slowest pace in six years, as homebuilders have struggled to find enough workers and enough cheap land to build on. Total private construction fell 0.5 per cent in January.

States and the federal government have made up for some of the decline, increasing their construction spending 1.8 per cent in January. Federal spending soared 14.9 per cent to the highest level in more than seven years.

Spending on highway and road building rose 4.4 per cent and construction of schools increased 2.1 per cent.


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