The U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development reported that single-family construction activity picked up in April compared to March, though the overall rate slumped to the lowest level on record due to a major slowdown in apartment construction.

The seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing starts fell 12.8 percent in April, to 458,000 units — this rate is a projection of a monthly total over a 12-month period, adjusted to account for typical seasonal variation in construction activity.

The report revealed that single-family starts posted a 2.8 percent gain from March to April while falling 45.6 percent percent year-over-year in April. For structures with five or more units that year-over-year plunge was 74.8 percent in April.

Single-family permit activity was up 3.6 percent in April compared to May but down 42.3 percent compared to April 2008, and permit activity for structures with five or more units plunged 66.2 percent year-over-year in April.

Regionally, single-family and multifamily housing starts declined across every part of the country except the West (up 42.5 percent) in April compared to march. Starts stooped 30.6 percent in the Northeast, 21.4 percent in the Midwest and 21.1 percent in the South. These drops were mainly attributed to big declines in the more volatile multifamily sector.

Building-permit issuance leveled in the West, but was down in the Northeast (-7.1 percent), the Midwest (-4.8 percent) and the South (-3.4 percent) from March to April.

Riya V. Anandwala


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