Housing starts increased 2.8% for March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 946,000, according to a Commerce Department report (link opens a PDF) released today. After February's report was revised up to a rate of 920,000, this latest report signals a slight uptick for the housing market. However, analysts had expected more from March, hoping for a sharp rise to a seasonally adjusted 965,000 annual rate.
While housing starts edged up, housing permits fell 2.4% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 990,000, while housing completions finished off the month down 0.2% to an 874,000 rate.
Over the last year, housing starts have tapered off 5.9%, but permits are up 11.2%, and completions have increased 7.7%.
Although housing starts have slumped nationwide over the past 12 months, slowing growth varies significantly by region. While sales in the South have fallen 13.9% and the West 3.2%, housing starts in the Midwest are up 2.9% and have soared 22.3% in the Northeast.
Today's news comes a day after April's NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index revealed that homebuilder confidence is still in the dumps, despite moving past wintry weather.