Single-family authorizations in March were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of about 1.54 million, which is 6.9 percent below the February figure and 0.6 percent below the March 2005 rate, the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced today.

The seasonally adjusted rate is used to project a monthly total over a 12-month period, accounting for seasonal fluctuations.

Privately owned housing units authorized by building permits in March were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of about 2.06 million. This is 5.5 percent below the revised February rate and 1.9 percent above the March 2005 estimate. Authorizations of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 436,000 in March.

Privately owned housing starts in March were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of about 1.96 million. This is 7.8 percent below the revised February estimate and 6.9 percent above the March 2005 rate.

Single-family housing starts in March were at a rate of about 1.59 million, which is 12 percent below the February figure and 2.6 percent above the March figure. The March rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 334,000.

Privately owned housing completions in March were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of about 2.21 million, which is 7.8 percent above the revised February estimate and 23.4 percent above the March 2005 rate.

Single-family housing completions in March were at a rate of about 1.87 million, which is 7.6 percent above the February figure. The March rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 303,000.

The agencies noted that month-to-month changes in seasonally adjusted statistics can show irregular movements. It can take four months to establish an underlying trend for building permit authorizations, six months for total starts and six months for total completions.

Statistics are estimated from sample surveys and are subject to sampling variability as well as non-sampling error including bias and variance from response, non-reporting and under-coverage.

On average, the preliminary seasonally adjusted estimates of total building permits, housing starts and housing completions are revised about 1 percent, the agencies reported.

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