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U.S. con­struc­tion spend­ing grew just 0.1 percent in Feb­rua­ry

WASH­ING­TON — Spend­ing on U.S. con­struc­tion pro­jects ticked up a mere 0.1 percent in Feb­rua­ry from the pri­or month, a sign that a grow­ing ec­on­omy is doing little to spur a more rapid pace for build­ing homes, hos­pi­tals and high­ways.

The Commerce Department said Mon­day that con­struc­tion spend­ing came in at a sea­son­al­ly ad­just­ed annual rate of $1.27 tril­lion. The lower unemployment rate and solid business and consumer confidence has supported an increase in hotel and office construction, but spending on roadways has slipped.

Construction spend­ing over the past 12 months is up just 3 percent before ad­just­ing for inflation. Some of the slug­gish­ness in Feb­rua­ry was due to a 2.1 percent drop in government-fund­ed con­struc­tion.

But even the pri­vate sec­tor has yet to full­y perk up de­spite the 4.1 percent un­em­ploy­ment rate. Resi­den­tial con­struc­tion, the larg­est sin­gle spend­ing cate­go­ry, rose just 0.1 percent in Feb­rua­ry. Home build­ers face strong de­mand from would-be buy­ers, yet there is a short­age of at­trac­tive land to de­vel­op and a dearth of con­struc­tion work­ers.

Pri­vate spend­ing on health care fa­cili­ties fell 2.2 percent in Feb­rua­ry. Spend­ing on the pow­er grid im­proved 0.9 percent on a month­ly ba­sis, but it has dropped 8.5 percent dur­ing the past year.

Spend­ing on fac­to­ry con­struc­tion did jump 1.2 percent between Feb­rua­ry and Jan­u­ar­y. But the gains came af­ter months of steady annual de­clines. Over the past 12 months, spend­ing on manu­fac­tur­ing plants has dropped 5.6 percent.— AP

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