Private spending on residential construction remained in positive territory in February even as overall construction, especially in the public sector, pulled back.  The Census Bureau said today that overall spending for all types of construction was at an annual rate of $1.14 trillion during the month, a decline of 0.5 percent from $1.15 trillion in January.  Today's report also revised that January number up from $1.14 trillion, changing the month over month increase from December from 1.5 percent to 2.1 percent.

February's spending was 10.3 percent higher than a year earlier and year-to-date spending totaled $157.1 billion, 11.2 percent ahead of spending during the first two months of 2015.  On an unadjusted basis there was a total of $78.46 billion spent on construction during the month compared to $78.67 billion in January.

Analysts were expecting a positive number this month.  The consensus among those polled by Econoday was for an increase of 0.2 percent.

Private construction spending eased by 0.1 percent to an annual rate of $846.2 billion from a revised January estimate of 847.2 billion and was 10.6 percent higher than in February 2015.  The January number was a substantial upgrade from the $831.41 billion originally estimated with a large share of the change coming from upward revisions to residential spending. 

On an unadjusted basis private spending for the month was 59.85 billion compared to 60.23 billion in January.  Year-to-date spending is 12.1 percent higher than in 2015.

Private sector residential spending was at a seasonally adjusted rate of 447.95 billion, an 0.9 percent month-over-month gain and 10.7 percent above the previous February.  Residential spending was reported as unchanged from December to January in the original report but has now been revised from $433.16 billion to $443.80 billion, a December-January gain of 0.9 percent.  Year-over-year spending, at $59.81 billion is 11.6 percent higher than a year ago.

Single-family construction saw an increase in private sector spending of 1.2 percent from January to an annual rate of $235.03 billion, 10.6 percent higher than a year ago.  Year-to-date spending is up 9.0 percent from last year.

Multi-family spending remained strong, rising 0.9 percent from January and up 24.1 percent year-over-year.  On a seasonally adjusted annual basis multi-family construction was put in place at a rate of $59.77 billion.

Public sector construction was at an annual rate of $297.76 billion, down from $302.94 billion, a decrease of 1.7 percent.  The rate of public sector spending is 9.2 percent higher than in February 2015.