By John S. McClenahen Federal government statistics on May 16 gave manufacturing executives some things to worry about over the weekend. Led by falling energy prices, the U.S. Labor Department's closely watched Consumer Price Index (CPI) decreased 0.3% in April, following a 0.3% increase in March. Coming just a day after the Labor Department reported a dramatic decline in prices at the producer level, the April CPI decline not surprisingly renewed concerns that the U.S. could be headed for a period of deflation-driven economic nongrowth. Data on housing starts in April failed to provide a counterpoint to the CPI reading. Starts of privately owned housing last month were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.63 million, 6.8% below the revised March estimate of 1.748 million, the U.S. Department of Commerce and Department of Housing and Urban Development reported in a joint release. Starts for single-family housing in April were at an annual rate of 1.356 million, 3% below their March figure of 1.398 million.