Residential construction spending changed little in February from January but rose 4.6% from February 2011.

The seasonally adjusted annual rate, as reported by the Census Bureau, fell $4 million in February to $253.5 billion. The Commerce Department revised the January rate downward to $253.5 billion from $260.6 billion.

While construction levels are off to a better start in 2012, they are nowhere near the highs of the housing bubble. The measure peaked at $682.6 billion in March 2006.

Spending on private residential projects rose 10.2% to $246.5 billion from February 2011, as new multifamily expenditures jumped 25.7% to $17.2 billion.

Public housing construction, which includes Section 8 subsidized housing, continued its descent, falling 1% to $7 billion from a month earlier and 21.9% from year-earlier figures.

New home sales, a separate measure from the Commerce Department, dipped 1.6% in February from a month earlier.

All construction fell 1.1% to $808.9 billion from January figures, but grew 5.8% from February 2011.