In a continuation of a downward trend that has lasted more than two years, single-family construction spending dipped 4.4 percent in April, to a seasonally adjusted pace of $204 billion. Compared to the same period last year, that represents a 37.5 percent drop.  “Single-family construction will continue to be a significant drag on economic growth through the end of this year,” Patrick Newport, an economist with Global Insight, explained. “But in early 2009, after housing starts hit bottom, it will turn around.”

The numbers, released this morning by the U.S. Census, did provide positive news in the multifamily sector. Spending for private, multifamily housing increased 0.4 percent, to a $44.7 billion seasonally adjusted pace. While that number still stands 12.5 percent below April 2007’s figures, it is also the third consecutive monthly increase for multifamily. 

Overall, the country’s pace of construction spending activity, which includes both public and private construction, hit nearly $1.121 trillion in April. That stands just 3.9 percent behind April 2007, despite the housing downturn. “This report was a bit better than anticipated because of another solid gain by private nonresidential construction,” Newport said. “This category is currently growing 15.4 percent, year-on-year, and continues to post solid-across-the-board numbers. In April, lodging, office, educational, amusement and recreation, transportation, communication, power, and manufacturing were growing at double-digit year-on-year rates.”

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Alison Rice is senior editor, online, for BUILDER magazine.