After two months of declining figures, private, nonresidential construction increased 1.3 percent in September compared with the previous month, the U.S. Census Bureau said.

The Associated Builders and Contractors called the strength of nonresidential construction “remarkable” in the face of a slowing national economy.

Officials cited U.S. Census Bureau figures that said after two months of declining figures, private nonresidential construction increased 1.3 percent in September compared with the previous month. Spending on such projects reached $415.2 billion. Overall nonresidential construction was $715.6 billion, an 11.4 percent increase from September 2007, the bureau reported.

“The resilience of nonresidential construction spending in the face of ongoing economic decline and a credit crunch is simply remarkable,” said the ABC’s chief economist, Anirban Basu. “Many economists had expected September to bring further decline after nonresidential construction declines in both July and August. But, that did not happen as massive shifts in the global economy continue to spur construction.

“For example, the spike in manufacturing-related construction spending is related in part to the ongoing expansion of America’s export sector, which has continued to be strong despite recent increases in the value of the dollar and a slowing global economy,” he added. “Investment in power has predictably also remained elevated, though it remains to be seen whether this will continue in light of the recent collapse in oil and other commodity prices.

“Despite September’s bounce back, the outlook remains far from clear,” Basu said. “Many of the projects currently under construction were planned and financed earlier in the business cycle,  prior to the credit crunch that began in earnest in August 2007.

“However, there remains downward pressure on deal flow and we continue to predict that the toughest times for the nonresidential construction industry are in front of us,” he said. “Publicly financed projects are also becoming a major issue given the disappointing tax collections at state and local levels. Many states are reducing allocations for their respective capital improvement programs, which will further suppress construction starts over the next few years.”