U.S. construction spending fell in April by the biggest amount in five years as housing, nonresidential construction and spending on government projects all declined.

The Commerce Department says construction spending dropped 1.8 percent in April after a 1.5 percent gain in March. It was the biggest monthly decline since a 4.1 percent plunge in January 2011.

Spending on housing fell 1.5 percent, nonresidential building was also down 1.5 percent and spending on government projects declined 2.8 percent.

The drop in overall construction was unexpected. Private economists had been forecasting a gain of around 0.6 percent. Housing construction has been a bright spot for the economy in recent months. In the first quarter, residential investment grew at a sizzling annual rate of 17.2 percent.