P.M. BRIEFING : Public Construction Advances

From Times Wire Services

Construction spending increased 1.3% in October, the first gain in three months, the government reported today. But the advance was due in large part to new school and sewer projects as spending on residential and non-residential buildings continued to fall.

The 2.8% drop in spending in September was the steepest since a 3% decline in January, 1982, in the midst of the 1981-82 recession. September’s spending also was the lowest since $423.1 billion was spent in November, 1988.

Residential spending dropped 0.9% following a 2.5% loss the previous month. Single-family spending fell 2% after a 3.1% drop in September. But apartment construction was up 1%.

Government spending, on the other hand, rose 7.7% after a 5.5% decline a month earlier. Spending on new schools was up 5.7% while spending for sewer projects advanced 15.5%.