WASHINGTON -- U.S. construction spending rose in March for the fifth consecutive month, led by increases in non-residential building activity, according to a report released by the Commerce Department.

Construction spending rose 1.3% in March to a record $854.4 billion annual rate, following a revised 0.9% gain in February. Compared to a year ago, construction spending was up 3.0% in March.

Even while overall construction spending rose in March, spending for single family housing construction fell 0.7%. It was the first decline since September 2000 when spending was down 0.5%, the department said. Last month's gain in construction spending was led by a 3.4% increase in the non-residential sector.