WASHINGTON, DC — Housing starts bumped up slightly in April, while new building permits dropped to the slowest pace since June 1997, according to figures released by the U.S. Commerce Department. Starts of new single-family homes were up 1.6% in April, but the pace was 18.9% below April 2006. Multi-family housing construction increased 6.3%, a 2.6% decrease from a year ago.

Single-family permit issuance was down 6.0%, 28.8% below last year; while multi-family permit issuance dropped 16.4%, or 26.1% below the April 2006 pace.

“The pattern of building permits clearly shows that the dramatic downward correction in housing production is still underway,” said National Assn. of Home Builders Chief Economist David Seiders.

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