Colder Weather Chills Housing Starts

A colder and snowier February, following an unseasonably warm January, took its toll on U.S. housing starts last month.

Starts for privately owned homes were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2.12 million last month, 7.9% below the revised January figure of 2.3 million, the U.S. Commerce Department and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development jointly reported on March 16.

Starts for single-family homes were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.8 million in February, 2.3% below their January figure of 1.843 million. The start rate for multi-family buildings was 275,000 in February, 36.5% below January's revised rate of 433,000.

The rate at which building permits were issued in February also declined, to a seasonally adjusted annual figure of 2.145 million, 3.2% below January's revised rate of 2.216 million. That signals a slowing in housing construction, but starts are not about to drop to the basement.

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