WASHINGTON (9/19/14)--After swelling in July, housing starts dropped by 14.4% in August to 956,000, according to numbers from the Commerce Department Thursday.
The biggest decline came in multifamily, or apartment construction starts, which fell by 31.5% for the month. Single-family starts slid 2.4% in August, but are still up 4.2% year-over-year (Economy.com Sept. 18).
Overall starts remain 8.3% above their year-ago levels as well.
"Regionally, the decline in housing starts was broad-based, with all four census regions showing monthly declines," said Andres Carbacho-Burgos, Moody's analyst (Economy.com).
Housing completions, meanwhile, climbed 3.2% in August up to 892,000, which is 16.9% higher than the pace seen this time last year. The gain was driven by multifamily completions, however, as single-family completions fell.
Privately owned housing permits dropped by 5.6% from July to 998,000, but remain 5.3% higher than last year.
Despite the weaker data in August, many analysts chalk it up to mere volatility in the housing market.
"Overall, the weakness in this report reflects the expected giveback from the unexpected surge in activity the month before, and is not an indication of weakening underlying momentum in the sector," Millan Mulraine, deputy head of U.S. research and strategy for TD Securities, said (MarketWatch.com Sept. 18).