The numbers: U.S. home builders started construction on homes at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.42 million in August, representing a 5% decrease from the previous month but a 3% uptick from a year ago, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Thursday.
Permitting activity occurred at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.47 million, down 1% from July but roughly even with the pace from August 2019.
Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected housing starts to occur at a pace of 1.52 million and building permits to come in at a pace of 1.55 million.
What happened: The dip in housing starts and building permits was driven by declines in multifamily construction activity. Multifamily starts fell 25% between July and August, while the number of new permits issued for multifamily buildings dropped 17% month over month.
Comparatively, construction of new single-family homes increased 4% between July and August and was up 12%