FILE- This May 4, 2018, file photo shows a house under construction in Roseville, Calif. On Thursday, Aug. 16, the Commerce Department reports on U.S. home construction in July. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

US housing starts rose a slight 0.9 percent in July

August 16, 2018 - 8:34 am

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. housing starts ticked up just 0.9 percent in July, a sign that higher construction costs might be weighing on homebuilders.

The Commerce Department says that housing starts last month rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.17 million, not nearly enough to reverse the steep 12.9 percent plunge seen in June as rising lumber, land and labor expenses appeared to constrain new construction.

Still, housing starts have risen 6.2 percent year-to-date. Solid job growth and a dearth of existing homes for sales have increased demand for new properties.

Ground breaking fell last month in the two priciest regional markets: the West and Northeast. But starts increased in the more affordable markets of the Midwest and South.

Building permits, an indicator of future construction, rose 1.5 percent in July.

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