By JOSH BOAK
AP Economics Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) – Spending on U.S. construction projects ticked up 0.1 percent in July, led by an increase in homebuilding and the publicly funded building of schools and highways.
The Commerce Department said Tuesday that the slight July increase brought total construction spending to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of $1.32 trillion, 5.8 percent higher than a year ago.
Nonresidential construction – offices, stores, factories and other buildings – tumbled 0.3 percent in July. Some of that decline was offset by a 0.6 percent gain in homebuilding.
Public construction rose 0.7 percent in July, including a 2.1 percent jump in the building of schools and a 0.4 percent advance in constructing highways and streets.
Construction spending growth helps to support the broader expansion of the U.S. economy. The buildings not only create jobs for carpenters, welders, roofers, bricklayers, engineers and architects, but they also provide housing and workspace that contribute to additional hiring in sectors outside of the construction industry.
The U.S. economy expanded at a brisk 4.2 percent annual pace in the second quarter, nearly doubling the growth rate for gross domestic product during the first three months of the year. The private construction component of GDP rose 2.1 percent during the first quarter.
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