The Commerce Department said on Tuesday that U.S. housing starts fell 8.8% to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 1.09 million units in March. That’s the lowest level since October and missed the median forecast.
Economists polled by Reuters had estimated 1.170 million for building permits, which are a sign of future activity. The Commerce Department report was the latest in a slew of bad economic data suggesting a slumping housing market and slowdown for the world’s largest economy.
Last month, groundbreaking on single-family housing projects, the largest segment of the market, tumbled 9.2 percent to a 764,000-unit pace, the lowest since October.
Single-family starts fell in all four regions last month, sliding 4.9 percent in the South, where most home building takes place. Housing starts for the volatile multi-family segment declined 7.9 percent to a 325,000-unit pace.
Building permits dropped 7.7 percent to a 1.09 million-unit rate last month, the lowest level since March last year. Permits for the construction of single-family homes decreased 1.2 percent in March, while multi-family building permits plunged 18.6 percent.