By John S. McClenahen Construction put in place across the U.S. last November was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $843.2 billion, reports the U.S. Commerce Department. That was 0.3% higher than October's revised rate of $840.5 billion and was much better than the no-growth figure that many economists had anticipated. Private residential construction, up 0.9% from October's base and rising at a record annual rate of $421.1 billion, was a major contributor to November's strong overall performance. So were several categories of public-sector construction, with school, hospital, and highway and street construction each posting at least a 1.5% month-to-month gain. For the first 11 months of 2002, a total of $782 billion worth of construction was put in place, 0.3% higher than the $780 billion recorded for the first 11 months of 2001.