Housing starts fell 6.5% for May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.001 million, according to a Commerce Department report (link opens a PDF) released today.
After soaring more than 13% for April, this latest report points to less-than-steady movements in the housing market recovery. Even with April's advance, analysts had been expecting May's starts to clock in at a stronger 1.036 million reading, which would have been a 3.3% drop from the previous month's revised figure.
Housing permits followed a similar path for May, dropping 6.4% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 991,000, while housing completions finished off the month in the opposite direction, up 6.8% at an 897,000 rate.
Over the past year, housing starts have increased 9.4%, permits are down 1.9%, and completions have soared 24.8%.
Today's news comes a day after the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index revealed that homebuilders are still pessimistic for June, although slightly less so than in May. Generally, today's Commerce Department report reiterates a recurring theme in recent housing market reports -- the recovery is rocky.