San Diego County residential construction activity rose 31 percent in the first quarter, while nonresidential activity was down 39 percent from the same period of 2011, according to the latest data from the research unit of McGraw-Hill Construction.

An April 26 release from New York-based McGraw-Hill noted that overall building activity, based on contracts for future construction, was down 16 percent compared with a year ago.

The county had a total of just over $511 million in total new contracts in the January to March period, down from just over $605 million in the first quarter of 2011. The local region had just over $265.8 million in residential contracts and $245.2 million in nonresidential contracts in the latest quarter.

California as a whole saw an overall 24 percent decline in construction activity, with residential up 31 percent and nonresidential projects down 20 percent. The state also saw nonbuilding projects, including streets, highways and other infrastructure work, decline 42 percent from a year ago.

Residential building includes single-family and apartment projects. Non-residential projects include commercial offices, retail, manufacturing, educational, religious, hotel, educational and other buildings, the statement said.