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U.S. Construction Spending Rose in 2017 by Least in Six Years

Even with solid U.S. economic growth, construction spending rose in 2017 by the least in six years, as nonresidential building slowed and outlays by governments declined.

The value of construction put in place increased 3.8 percent to $1.23 trillion last year, according to Commerce Department figures released Thursday in Washington. That’s the smallest gain since a 2.6 percent drop in 2011. Spending for December was up 0.7 percent from the previous month, exceeding the median estimate of economists for a 0.4 percent increase.

Private nonresidential construction rose just 0.6 percent last year, compared with a 10.6 percent increase in residential building. The slow gain in the former category was driven by declines in construction related to power and manufacturing.

Public construction spending fell 2.5 percent last year to $279.8 billion, as state and local governments trimmed outlays. Declines were most pronounced in the categories of highways and streets; power; sewage and waste disposal; and water supply, the report showed.

Public spending on highways and streets fell 3.7 percent to $87.7 billion in 2017, according to the data.

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