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US home construction climbed 5.7% in April

FILE - In this Jan. 23, 2019, file photo, construction workers build new housing in Salisbury, Mass. On Thursday, May 16, the Commerce Department reports on U.S. home construction in April. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)

WASHINGTON — U.S. home construction rose in April, led by an uptick in single-family homes.

The Commerce Department said Thursday that homebuilding rose 5.7% last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.24 million. But housing starts fell 2.5% from a year earlier, suggesting that would-be home buyers are facing a shortage of new houses.

Construction of single-family homes increased 6.2% to 854,000 but was down 4.3% from a year earlier. Building of apartments and condominiums rose 2.3% to 359,000 and was up 1.4% from April 2018.

From March to April, housing starts surged 84.6% in the Northeast and 42% in the Midwest but fell 5.7% in the South and 5.5% in the West. The regional construction numbers can jump around from month to month.

Housing permits, an indicator of future activity, rose 0.6% to 1.3 million, the first uptick since December. Permits were down 5% from April 2018. Single-family home permits skidded 4.2% in April from March and were down 9.4% from a year earlier.

Paul Wiseman, The Associated Press

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