Spending on U.S. construction projects ticked up 0.1 per cent in July, led by an increase in homebuilding and the publicly funded building of schools and highways.

The Commerce Department said Tuesday that the slight July increase brought total construction spending to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of $1.32 trillion, 5.8 per cent higher than a year ago.

Nonresidential construction — offices, stores, factories and other buildings — tumbled 0.3 per cent in July. Some of that decline was offset by a 0.6 per cent gain in homebuilding.

Public construction rose 0.7 per cent in July, including a 2.1 per cent jump in the building of schools and a 0.4 per cent advance in constructing highways and streets.

Construction spending growth helps to support the broader expansion of the U.S. economy. The buildings not only create jobs for carpenters, welders, roofers, bricklayers, engineers and architects, but they also provide housing and workspace that contribute to additional hiring in sectors outside of the construction industry.

The U.S. economy expanded at a brisk 4.2 per cent annual pace in the second quarter, nearly doubling the growth rate for gross domestic product during the first three months of the year. The private construction component of GDP rose 2.1 per cent during the first quarter.

Josh Boak, The Associated Press