Housing Starts Up in May

Washington, DC, June 16--Housing starts rose 0.2% in May to a seasonally adjusted 2.009 million annualized units from April's revised 2.005 million, according to the Commerce Department. Economists were expecting starts to drop to 2.03 million units from the initial April rate of 2.04 million. The May level is 1.8% higher than the 1.974-million-unit pace reported in May 2004. Starts of new single-family homes rose by 4.7% in May to a 1.704 million seasonally adjusted annual rate. Building permits for new housing fell 4.6% to a 2.050 million annual rate. This is the largest decline since June 2004. But it follows a 6.3% rise in April. Permits for single-family homes dropped by 1.3% to a 1.619 million annual rate. The government cautions that the housing data are subject to large sampling and other statistical errors. It can take five months for a trend in housing starts to emerge from the data.