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U.S. construction spending up in July

A construction worker carries scaffolding poles for work

A construction worker carries scaffolding poles for work on a new single family home in Aldie, Va. Spending on U.S. construction projects rose in July, led by strong gains in housing and nonresidential projects. (Aug. 7, 2013) Photo Credit: AFP / Getty Images

Spending on U.S. construction projects rose in July, led by strong gains in housing and nonresidential projects.

Construction spending increased 0.6 percent in July compared with June when activity was unchanged, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday. The June performance represented an upward revision from an initial estimate that spending had fallen 0.6 percent.

Total construction activity rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $900.8 billion in July, the strongest performance since June 2009.

The July gain reflected a 0.6 percent rise in housing construction with both single-family and apartment construction posting gains. In June, housing had fallen 0.9 percent.

Government projects fell 0.3 percent in July with state and local spending down 0.4 percent. That drop more than offset a 1.1 percent rise in the smaller federal category.

The advance in housing activity pushed residential construction to its highest level since September 2008. The increase for nonresidential building was led by a 6.1 percent increase in construction of hotels and motels. Office building and the category that covers shopping centers also showed gains.

Total construction is 5.2 percent higher than it was a year ago, with residential activity up 17.2 percent and nonresidential construction up by a more modest 2 percent. Public construction is down 3.7 percent from a year ago as all levels of government are still facing tight budget constraints.

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