Compared with June's housing start report, there is less to cheer about in the Tuesday morning release from the Department of Commerce and U.S. Census Bureau.
The seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing starts slipped to 604,000 in July. But that's still up 9.8% from the July 2010 rate of 550,000. Another possible positive indicator: June and July marked the first two-month stretch of a pace higher than 600,000 since March and April of 2010.
Single-family housing starts in July were at a rate of 425,000, a 4.9% decline from June. Single-family homes are also down compared with a year ago, when July 2010 starts were at a pace of 429,000.
On a regional basis, the Northeast showed the strongest month-to-month performance -- up 34.7% in total starts, and up 7.5% in single-family homes. The bleakest stats emerged from the Midwest region, which was down 37.7% compared with June in total starts, and down 22.6% in single-family starts.