Housing starts increased 6.8% in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.769 million units, according to reuters.com. Economists expected starts to increase to a rate of 1.69 million units.
Housing starts were up 22.3% compared with February 2021. Applications for building permits, a good indication of future activity, fell 1.9% to 1.859 million units in February.
Single-family housing starts were up 5.7% at 1.215 million units, and the rate for multifamily starts was up 0.8 % at 501,000 units.
There is a large backlog of houses approved for construction that have not broken ground as builders struggle with shortages and soaring materials prices. The National Association of Homebuilders’ recent measure of single-family homebuilders’ confidence fell to a six-month low in March, and its gauge of future sales was the lowest since June 2020.