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US construction growth in 1.1% retreat

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US construction spending dropped 1.1 per cent earlier this year despite previously showing signs of green shoots, according to official figures

A total of $808.9 billion (£510bn) was spent on US construction in February 2012 – according to estimated and seasonally adjusted figures from the Department of Commerce.

This was 1.1 per cent lower than in the previous month and went against the grain of a steadily building recovery.

Spending in the private sector fell by 0.8 per cent from January to $527.3bn, with the non-residential sector responsible for most of the decline.

In the public sector, construction spending was down 1.7 per cent from January to $281.6bn. Education spending dropped significantly.

Despite the month-on-month dip, overall US construction spending was 5.8 per cent higher in February 2012 than in the same month a year earlier

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) said there were promising signs.

‘The increases seen are from levels that are the lowest in decades, so we can’t get too excited as of yet,’ it said in a market update:

‘But there are some green shoots appearing, particularly in the residential construction sector, which is bouncing back and contributing more to GDP growth.’

RICS predicted up to 15 per cent growth in residential investment this year, and said this would boost employment in the industry.

There has been encouragement for UK architects across the Atlantic recently.

Meanwhile, the American Institute of Architects announced a fourth consecutive month of positive billings data in February.

And a survey by DesignIntelligence found that architects with 20 years’ experience had average base salaries of $101,101 (£63,800) – up more than 3 per cent on the previous year.

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