US construction spending flat as commercial building falls

WASHINGTON (AP) — 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 percent, while apartment building fell. Construction of commercial projects, such as office towers and malls, fell 2.7 percent. Construction spending on new power plants plunged 6.2 percent.

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 percent in January.

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

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

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