Spending on private residential projects fell for the fourth consecutive month, while overall construction spending was unchanged in April thanks to a sharp jump in public construction outlays.
Economists polled by Reuters expected construction spending to rise 0.4% in April, but construction spending was actually down 1.2% on a year-on-year basis in April. Construction spending was up 0.1% in March.
In April, spending on public construction projects rose 4.8% after increasing 0.5% in March. It was the fourth consecutive monthly rise. Federal construction spending soared to 7.4%, the biggest jump in 18 months.
Private construction outlays fell 1.7% to the lowest level since January 2017 after being unchanged in March.
Investment in private residential projects slipped 0.6% to the lowest level since December 2016, after a 1.2% drop in March. The outlook for the housing market has improved recently as mortgage rates ease from last year’s lofty levels, but building remains constrained by labor and land shortages.
Spending on private nonresidential structures, which include manufacturing and power plants slumped 2.9% in April, the biggest drop in more than six years, after rising 1.3% in March.