Spending on construction has been swinging up and down over the last few months, but November was a fairly good one for the industry. According to the Commerce Department, spending was up 1.2% from October to $807 billion.

And it was up 0.5% from $803 billion in November 2010.

Private construction led the charge with $522.3 billion spent — the most since December 2009 and a 1% increase from October. Compared with November 2010, spending was up 4%.

Residential building expenditures rose 2% month to month, though nonresidential private spending stayed roughly the same.

The number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes in November was the highest in 11/2 years, the National Assn. of Realtors said last week. Housing starts were up 9.3% that month from October, according to the Commerce Department, even as home prices continue to tumble in the nation’s major cities.

Although public spending was up 1.7% compared with October, the $284.9 billion was 5.3% less than the year-earlier amount.

Government payments for residential, office, commercial and transportation building all slipped from 2010.

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