WASHINGTON—This week, the United States Department of Commerce released data showing residential construction starts dropped 30.2% in April, marking the biggest one-month dip since the the government began tracking housing starts in 1959. 

The seasonally adjusted annual rate was 891,000, the lowest since February 2015. Single-family construction starts decreased 25.4%, to a rate of 650,000. Single family building permits dropped 24.3% to a rate of 669,000 units. 

Meanwhile in the multifamily housing segment, starts were down 40.5% to a rate of 241,000 in April. New permits for multifamily housing dropped 14.2% to a rate of 405,100 units. 


Here's a breakdown of housing starts by region: 

  • Northeast—down 43.6%
  • Midwest—down 14.9%
  • South—down 26%
  • West—43.4%

The Commerce Department also reported the rate of completion of homes currently under construction decreased 8.1%. Additionally, new housing building permits declined 20.8%, the lowest level since January 2015.

Analysts have blamed the continuing coronavirus pandemic on the significant decreases. Economists are now forecasting that the gross domestic product will shrink as much as 43% in the second quarter of 2020. 

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