Construction spending in March rose 1.4% above an upwardly revised February estimate to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $768.9 billion, 6.7% behind the rate of March, 2010, the Commerce Department reported Monday.

The gain, which was driven by commercial construction and residential renovation, beat estimates by a full percentage point.

Private construction rose 2.2% from February to a rate of $476.1 billion, driven by the manufacturing, power, educational, health care and lodging categories. Residential construction was up 2.2% from Februrary to a rate of $229.1 billion but was driven by renovations. New single-family construction fell 1% from February to $105.9 billion, 9.4% below March, 2010. New multifamily construction fell 2.2% from February to $12.5 billion, 13.2% behind last year's March rate.

Public construction rose 0.1% to $293 billion, 2.3% off the rate of last March.

For the first quarter of 2011, construction spending totaled $161.2 billion, 7.8% below $174.8 billion for the same period in 2010.