In its largest decline in six months, construction spending fell 1.3% in July as builders pulled back on both private and public projects, according to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau today. At a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $789.5 billion, July’s spending stood 0.1% above year-ago levels.

Private residential spending slipped by 1.4% for the month. However, that number includes residential improvements, a notoriously poorly estimated category. Once residential improvements are subtracted, private residential spending actually gained 0.2% from improvements in both the single- and multifamily markets.

"We expect the multifamily market to make steady gains over the next few months," wrote Patrick Newport, U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight, in a release today discussing the numbers. "The single-family market, stuck at the bottom, will continue to disappoint."

Meanwhile, private nonresidential spending was down 0.4%, but the category’s estimates for May and June were revised up substantially to show gains of 3.9% and 2.9%, respectively.

Public construction fell 2.1% in July, the ninth time in 10 months that the category has registered a loss.

Claire Easley is a senior editor at Builder.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Greenville, SC.