Spending on private and public construction rose 0.8% to a seasonally adjusted rate of $968.7 billion in April from March, defying predictions from economists for a decline, the Commerce Department reported Monday.

Private residential construction was up 0.7% from March to a rate of $249.2 billion but lagged January's $286.4 billion and February's $256.6 billion. Residential construction, however, remained down 35% from April 2008 and 63.2% below peak in March, 2006.

Nonresidential private construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $408.2 billion in April, 1.8% above the revised March estimate of $400.8 billion.

Public construction spending was $311.4 billion, 0.6% below the revised March estimate of $313.2 billion. Educational construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $89.1 billion, 1.8% below March.Highway construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $79.0 billion, 0.9% above March.