March housing starts jumped 7% from February to a 549,000 annual pace. The monthly gain was 15% from the originally reported February total. Permits gained 11% to 594,000 from the upwardly revised initial February estimate.
The strong March report puts new residential construction back on track with recent months by wiping out the surprisingly weak initial estimate in February. There is still no evidence that a sustained housing recovery is underway yet. Homebuilding remains flat. March’s 549,000 starts are just slightly below the 572,000 average over the last twelve months. Sustained housing recovery is expected to begin in the spring.