In January 2019, single-family housing starts bounced back after declining four consecutive months to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.230 million units.
The number represents 18.6 percent annual growth, according to the Department of Commerce. December 2018 data were revised down to 1.037 million units from the previously reported starts pace of 1.078 million units, CNBC reports. By contrast, building permits issued dropped to a near two-year low, rising 1.4 percent annually to a rate of 1.345 million units in January. Multi-family permits drove the growth.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast housing starts rising to a pace of 1.197 million units in January. The release of the January housing starts and building permits report was delayed by a five-week partial shutdown of the federal government that ended on Jan. 25.
The housing market hit a soft patch last year amid higher mortgage rates, expensive lumber as well as land and labor shortages, which led to tight inventories and less affordable homes. Investment in home building contracted 0.2 percent in 2018, the weakest performance since 2010.