Spending on construction projects ticked down in January, slipping 0.1% from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $538.7 billion, but remained 7.1% higher than the previous year, according to data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. Once residential improvements, a poorly estimated category, are subtracted, the drop deepens to 0.3%.

The report was still a good one for home builders, however, as the decline came from private nonresidential and public sectors, while privately funded residential construction increased spending by 1.8%. Without improvements, residential spending was up 2.2% for the month, and new, single-family construction was up even higher with a gain of 2.5% to log the eighth consecutive month of improvements.

Spending on private multifamily homes was up 0.7% for the month. On a year-over-year basis, private spending was up for both single-family and multifamily projects, gaining 5.5% and 20.0%, respectively.

Other sectors were less promising. Private nonresidential spending was down 1.5% for the month, with the bulk of the loss attributed to drops in the manufacturing and power industries, although both were up more than 25% year-over-year.

Public construction spending was also down in January with a drop of 0.2%. Public residential spending was down 3.4% on a monthly basis and 27.7% lower year-over-year. Several infrastructure sectors saw significant gains, however, such as water supply (up 10.2%) and transportation (up 2.5%). And while January’s numbers were down, public construction estimates for November and December were revised up, resulting in a 6.8% gain for the past six months.

Claire Easley is a senior editor at Builder.

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