US homebuilding projects started in August slowed after their massive jump in July, with half the country posting double-digit declines while the other half saw big increases, according to government data released Thursday.
Home sales have showed no signs of slowing despite the coronavirus pandemic, and builders are struggling to keep up with demand, making the housing market one of the major bright spots in the US economy.
Housing starts fell 5.1 percent compared to July to an annual rate of 1.4 million, far below what analysts had been expecting and driven entirely by the 25.4 percent drop in construction of apartment buildings, the Commerce Department reported.
New construction of single-family homes increased one percent to an annual rate of over one million houses, the report said.
The regional differences were dramatic: buildings initiated in the Northeast plunged 33.1 percent, but in the Midwest jumped 28.4 percent.
While builders continue to take advantage of extremely low interest rates and the pent-up demand for homes, construction projects in the pipeline also slowed as building permits issued in August fell 0.9 percent compared to July -- confounding economists who had predicted another increase.
Those data also showed a sharp decline in permits for apartment buildings and a solid increase for single-family homes.