Total construction spending eked out a slight rise in June as gains in stimulus-aided public categories offset decreases in homebuilding and private nonresidential spending, according to the Associated General Contractors of America in a recent analysis of new Census Bureau data.

“Stimulus dollars are supporting construction jobs, but the pain is continuing for most contractors and their workers who depend on private projects or school construction,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist.

Simonson noted that total construction spending inched up 0.1% in June at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, buoyed by a 1.5% increase in public construction, which offset declines of 0.8% in private residential and 0.5% in private nonresidential spending.

“Every private category was negative, most deeply so, compared to June 2009,” Simonson observed. “But there were encouraging gains for the month in private hospital and power construction, both of which should be growth markets over the next several quarters.”

Among public categories, Simonson said that highway and wastewater construction each rose for the fourth consecutive month; other public transportation facilities (transit, rail and airports) jumped 20% from a year earlier; and public housing soared 31% compared to June 2009.

Simonson pointed out that, in contrast, public primary and secondary school construction, which has been battered by falling property tax receipts and lower in-migration to formerly fast-growing school districts, shrank 27% in the past year.

Source: The Associated General Contractors of America