Housing Starts Drop 17.6% in March

Washington, DC, April 19--Housing starts were off by 17.6 percent in March, according to a report from the Commerce Department. During the month starts saw their biggest drop in more than 14 years, as groundbreaking for both single-family and multi-family homes fell. March housing starts fell to a 1.837 million unit rate from an upwardly revised 2.229 million unit pace in February. The decline marked the largest monthly drop since January 1991, when starts also fell 17.6 percent. Economists had forecast starts to drop 4.8 percent in March to a 2.09 million unit rate from the 2.195 million unit clip initially reported for February. Single-family housing starts were off 14.4 percent to a 1.539 million unit pace, the largest drop since January 1991. Multi-family starts fell 31.6 percent. Building permits fell 4.0 percent to a 2.023 million unit pace. Economists had forecast a drop of 0.3 percent. Housing starts fell 29.3 percent in the U.S. Midwest, 18.0 percent in the South, 12.7 percent in the West and 3.6 percent in the Northeast, the Commerce Department said.