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March construction spending rises 1.4 percent

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Builders began work on more office buildings, hotels and factories in March, lifting construction spending after three straight monthly declines.

The Commerce Department says construction spending rose 1.4 percent in March. It was the biggest advance since last April and was helped by a rise in spending on home improvement projects.

The overall increase, however, came after building activity had fallen in February to the lowest level in in more than a decade. Even with the advance, activity in March stood at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $768.9 billion, just half the $1.5 trillion pace that economists consider healthy. It could take four years for the construction industry to fully recover from the housing bust and deep recession.