Housing Starts: Is America Becoming a Nation of Renters?

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After a slow start to the year, housing starts in the United States surged higher last month to easily beat expectations and dampen fears about another serious downturn. However, the majority of the growth did not come from single-family homes.

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, builders broke ground on houses at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.07 million units in April, up 13.2 percent from the revised March estimate of 947,000 units, and 26.4 percent above the April 2013 rate of 848,000 units. Housing starts have now improved on a month-over-month basis for four consecutive months.

The results for April were better than expected, which is a rare feat over the past year. On average, economists expected housing starts to come in around a 983,000-unit pace last month. After a worrisome start to the year, housing starts may finally be stabilizing. The January reading for housing starts posted the biggest miss of expectations in seven months.