Western Surge Boosts

March Housing StartsA surge in the West pushed U.S. housing starts up slightly to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.543 million units, the Commerce Department reported.

The increase in the West was partially offset by declines in the South and Northeast, keeping the increase to only 1.9 percent.

February housing starts were revised to up 9.6 percent to 1.514 million units. February was originally reported up 8.9 percent to 1.494 million units.

The rise in March permits to an adjusted rate of 1.452 million units is 2.1 percent above the revised February increase of 13.1 percent to 1.422 million units. Commerce previously reported February permits up 11.5 percent to 1.402 million units.

Commerce said actual housing starts of 299,500 units for the three months of 1988 was 14.2 percent below the first quarter of 1987. Actual permits of 301,200 units was 15.1 percent below the first quarter of 1987.

Commerce also said the annual rate of 299,000 multi-family units for March was the lowest since 204,000-unit pace of June 1982.