Housing starts and permits slipped in April, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday, falling well below the expectations of economists.

Privately-owned housing starts in April were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,172,000, 2.6% below the revised March estimate of 1,203,000 but still 0.7% above the April 2016 rate of 1,164,000. Economists were expecting an increase of 3.7% to 1.26 million. Single-family housing starts in April were at a rate of 835,000; this is 0.4% ahead of the revised March figure of 832,000. The April rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 328,000, a drop of 9.6% from March.


Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in April were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,229,000, 2.5% below the revised March rate of 1,260,000 but is 5.7% above the April 2016 rate of 1,163,000. Single-family authorizations in April were at a rate of 789,000, 4.5% below the revised March figure of 826,000. Authorizations of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 403,000 in April, up 1.5% from March.

Starts in the Northeast fell 37.3% overall and single-family starts were down 29.2% from March to a rate of 79,000 and 46,000, respectively. In the Midwest, starts overall rose 41.1% to a rate of 206,000, and single-family starts were up 19.4% to a rate of 129,000. The South was down 9.1% to 592,000 and down 3.4% to 456,000, respectively. The West was up 5.4% to a rate of 295,000, with single-family up 9.1% to a rate of 204,000.