Builders started work on fewer homes, apartments and government projects in February, pushing construction activity down to the lowest level in more than a decade.
The Commerce Department says construction spending tumbled for a third straight month, dropping 1.4 percent in February. The weakness pushed total activity down to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $760.6 billion, the smallest total since October 1999.
That was below the previous recession low set back in August. Activity at the February level is about half the $1.5 trillion pace that economists believe would signal a healthy construction sector.
They think it could take up to four years for construction to fully recover from the bursting of a housing bubble that pushed the country into a deep recession.