Construction spending increased 0.5% in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $874.9 billion, according to a Commerce Department report (link opens as PDF) released today.

After easing up a revised 0.1% in April, analysts only slightly overestimated May spending growth at 0.6%.

Source: Commerce Department. 

While overall private construction spending stayed steady at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $605.4 billion, a 1.2% month-over-month boost in private residential construction proved enough to offset a 1.4% drop in private nonresidential construction. The rise in residential construction reflected a 0.4% increase in new single-family construction and a 2.5% jump in multifamily construction.

More recently a drag on spending numbers, public sector construction managed a 1.8% increase in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $269.5 billion. State and local activity was up 1.6% and federal spending rose 0.6%.

So far for 2013, overall construction spending is up 6.2% compared to the same period in 2012.

For May, residential construction spending is 23.1% higher than a year ago while nonresidential construction is 0.9% below the level of a year ago. Public construction is 4.7% lower than a year ago with government activity depressed by tight budgets.

-- Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.