Reflecting the impact of the coronavirus-induced economic shutdown, the Commerce Department released a report on Tuesday showing another steep drop in new residential construction in the U.S. in the month of April.
The report said housing starts plummeted by 30.2 percent to an annual rate of 891,000 in April after tumbling by 18.6 percent to a revised 1.276 million in March.
Economists had expected housing stocks to plunge by 23.8 percent to a rate of 927,000 from the 1.216 million originally reported for the previous month.
The steeper than expected drop in housing starts reflected substantial decreases in both single-family and multi-family starts.
Single-family starts dove by 25.4 percent to a rate of 650,000, while multi-family starts cratered by 40.5 percent to a rate of 241,000.
The Commerce Department said building permits also slumped by 20.8 percent to an annual rate of 1.074 million in April after falling by 5.7 percent to a revised 1.356 million in March.
Building permits, an indicator of future housing demand, had been expected to nosedive by 26.1 percent to a rate of 1 million from the 1.353 million originally reported for the previous month.
Single-family permits plunged by 24.3 percent to a rate of 669,000, while multi-family permits tumbled by 14.2 percent to a rate of 405,000.
Compared to the same month a year ago, housing starts in April were down by 29.7 percent and building permits were down by 19.2 percent.
On Monday, the National Association of Home Builders released a separate report showing a rebound in homebuilder confidence in the month of May.
The report said the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index climbed to 37 in May after plummeting to 30 in April. Economists had expected the index to rise to 33.