WASHINGTON — U.S. construction spending was flat in May with homebuilding falling again, even as buyers face climbing prices and a shortage of available properties on the market.

The Commerce Department reported no increase in construction spending in May, which follows a report two weeks ago showing that housing starts fell for the third straight month.

Economists have been expecting housing construction to play a key role in supporting overall economic growth in 2017 as demand for homes rises amid low unemployment and increasing incomes. However, many buyers have been frustrated by limited inventory and rising prices.

Private residential construction fell 0.6 percent in May, the first decline in that category since April 2016 and its biggest decline since a 0.6 percent drop in July 2014. Non-residential construction declined 0.7 percent, the fifth straight monthly decline for the category.

Overall construction spending was reported at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1.23 trillion, the same as April’s revised figure.

The flat May number follows April’s decline of 0.7 percent, which was revised from an originally reported drop of 1.7 percent. Analysts last month said they thought April’s dismal number was an anomaly and had expected a modest rebound in May.

Meanwhile, government construction spending rose at the state and federal levels in May after declines the previous month. State and local government construction rose 1.7 percent after April’s decline of 2.7 percent. Federal government construction also rebounded, rising 6.4 percent after a decline of 2.1 percent in April.

Construction of manufacturing facilities dipped 1.7 percent in May and is down 10.7 percent from the same mo-nth last year.

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