Construction spending resumed its slide in November, falling 0.6 percent after posting its first gain in six months during October, the government said Wednesday.
The Commerce Department said residential, non-residential and government construction spending totaled a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $422.4 billion, down from $425.1 billion the previous month.November spending fell to the lowest level since $421.6 billion in projects got under way in October 1988. Overall, spending in November was 2.5 percent below the $433.4 billion posted in the same month of 1989.
Spending in October had increased a revised 0.3 percent, the first gain since a 0.4 percent advance in March. Last month the department initially had reported the October increase to be 1.3 percent.
The construction industry has been struggling for months, wracked by high interest rates, tight lending requirements, high vacancy rates and falling consumer confidence because of the Persian Gulf crisis and the weakening economy.
As a result, 62,000 construction jobs were lost in November, according to Labor Department figures. Over the past six months, the industry has seen jobs tumble by about 250,000.
Only government spending posted a gain in November. It was up 3.5 percent, to an annual rate of $115.9 billion, due in part to a 6.6 percent increase in street and highway projects. Spending on schools rose 3.7 percent.
Private spending fell across the board, however.
Residential spending dropped 2.5 percent to an annual rate of $173.8 billion, following a 0.8 percent loss in October.
Single-family spending fell 2.1 percent to $100.7 billion after a 1.9 percent decline the previous month.
Non-residential spending declined 2.2 percent to an annual rate of $96.9 billion following a 3.1 percent drop the previous month.