Construction spending edged up 0.2% in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $942.5 billion, according to a Commerce Department report (link opens as PDF) released today. 

After February's 0.1% increase was revised down to a 0.2% decrease, this latest news puts construction spending well below expected levels. Analysts had predicted 0.6% growth for March. 

Source: Commerce Department 

Diving deeper, private construction proved to be March's saving grace. Private spending increased 0.5% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $679.6 billion. Residential construction surged ahead 0.8%, while nonresidential managed a 0.2% spending increase.

While private spending pushed, public spending pulled. Public construction spending fell 0.6% for March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of just $262.9 billion. Educational construction dropped off 2.3%, while high spending grew 0.5%.

From a longer-term perspective, March's overall construction spending clocks in 8.3% above year-ago levels. 

So far for 2014, overall construction spending is up 1.5% compared to the same period in 2013.

Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.