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.