By PAUL WISEMAN
AP Economics Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. home construction occurred at a faster pace in April, led by an increase in the construction of single-family homes.
The Commerce Department said on Thursday that the number of homes built rose by 5.7% last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.24 million. But housing starts fell 2.5% from a year earlier, suggesting that would-be home buyers are faced with a shortage of new houses.
The number of single-family homes built increased 6.2% to 854,000 but was down 4.3% from a year earlier. The number of apartments and condominiums built rose by 2.3% to 359,000 and was up 1.4% from April 2018.
From March to April, the number of housing starts surged 84.6% in the Northeast and 42% in the Midwest. Analysts at Contingent Macro Advisors noted that both regions “saw a rebound following harsh winter weather.” But the number of homes built fell 5.7% in the South and 5.5% in the West. The regional construction numbers can jump around from month to month.
The number of housing permits issued, an indicator of future activity, rose 0.6% to 1.3 million, the first increase seen since December. Permits were down 5% from April 2018. Single-family home permits skidded 4.2% in April from March and were down 9.4% from a year earlier.