Housing starts across the country fell by nearly 7 percent between February and March to hit a seasonally adjusted rate of 1.2 million, according to figures released by the U.S. Commerce Department.
However, residential building permits rose by 3.6 percent, the Wall Street Journal reported. The number of permits can be an indicator of home construction that’s ahead, according to the newspaper. In terms of starts, both single-family and multifamily construction saw a decline. Permits for single-family homes fell, but went up for buildings with multiple units. In total, building permits were up 17 percent compared to March 2016.
The drop in housing starts had a margin of error of 12.5 percentage points, and the increase in permits had a margin of error of 2.8 percentage points, according to the Journal.
The jump in permit numbers “should quash any concerns that home builders might be pulling back,” Ralph McLaughlin, chief economist at home-tracker Trulia, told the Journal.
In March, building confidence for the single-family home market in the United States jumped to its highest reading since June 2005, according to the National Association of Home builders. Though it dropped back this month to a level of 68 — the figure still indicates builders view conditions as good.