LIVE: President Trump holds rally for Alabama Senate race

Dismiss

U.S. Housing Starts Dropped in July

By Sarah Chaney and Eric Morath Features Dow Jones Newswires

U.S. housing starts fell last month, driven by a pullback in multifamily construction.

Continue Reading Below

Housing starts decreased 4.8% in July from the prior month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.155 million, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. Residential building permits, which can signal how much construction is in the pipeline, fell 4.1% to an annual pace of 1.223 million last month.

Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected a 0.4% increase for starts, while predicting that permits remained flat.

Starts ticked down 0.5% in July for single-family construction and plummeted 15.3% for multifamily construction. Permits last month were flat for single-family homes and down 11.2% for buildings with multiple units.

Housing-starts data are volatile from month to month and can be subject to large revisions.

Housing starts in June were revised down to a 1.213 million annual pace from an initial estimate of 1.215 million. Permits, which tend to be more reliable, were revised up to a 1.275 million rate from 1.254 million.

Continue Reading Below

Looking beyond monthly volatility, starts in the first seven months of the year were up 2.4% from the same period in 2016. Permits during this period increased 6.5% from a year earlier.

New housing construction has eased since touching a post-recession high in October 2016. Building remains well below the peak touched in 2005 and 2006, when the housing bubble was building.

Softer home construction was a drag on economic growth this spring. A separate Commerce Department report last month showed spending on home building and improvements dropped at a 6.8% annualized pace during the second quarter, the sharpest decline since 2010. That was a significant factor keeping broader output growth at a moderate 2.6% rate.

The Commerce report can be found at http://www.census.gov/construction/nrc/pdf/newresconst.pdf

Write to Sarah Chaney at sarah.chaney@wsj.com and Eric Morath at eric.morath@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 16, 2017 08:45 ET (12:45 GMT)