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US construction spending rose 2.2 percent in April to $1 trillion rate, best in 6 years

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WASHINGTON — U.S. construction spending climbed in April to the highest level in more than six years, fueled by healthy gains in housing, government spending and non-residential construction.

Construction spending advanced 2.2 percent in April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1 trillion, the highest level since November 2008, the Commerce Department said Monday. Spending had risen a more modest 0.5 percent in March.

The gain included a 0.6 percent rise in residential construction and a 3.1 percent jump in non-residential activity such as office buildings, hotels and shopping centers. Government projects increased 3.3 percent, reflecting the biggest jump in spending on state and local projects in three years.

Economists are looking for construction to provide solid support to the economy this year.

PHOTO: In this March 31, 2015 photo, Roy Livesey stacks a pallet of 2x4's at the Allegheny Millwork and Lumberyard in Pittsburgh. The Commerce Department reports on U.S. construction spending in April on Monday, June 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
In this March 31, 2015 photo, Roy Livesey stacks a pallet of 2x4's at the Allegheny Millwork and Lumberyard in Pittsburgh. The Commerce Department reports on U.S. construction spending in April on Monday, June 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

The April advance was the biggest one-month gain in three years and left construction activity more than 4 percent above where it was a year ago.

The construction industry has struggled to come back from the Great Recession, which hit builders hard.

The April expansion in home building followed two lackluster months. Both single-family homes and apartment building showed gains in April.

The increase in spending on government projects reflected a strong 3.9 percent jump in state and local projects, the biggest monthly increase since April 2013. That strength offset a 3.6 percent decline in federal spending.

The construction industry appears to be emerging from a soft patch in recent months when activity was curtailed by an unusually severe winter in many parts of the country.

The government reported last week that the overall economy, as measured by the gross domestic product, shrank at an annual rate of 0.7 percent in the January-March quarter. Economists are forecasting a rebound to growth of around 2.5 percent in the current April-June quarter.

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