NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- New home construction ticked higher in July, but indications of future building were weak, the government said Tuesday.
Housing starts rose 1.7% from June to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 546,000 last month, the Commerce Department said.
Economists were expecting housing starts to rise to 555,000, according to a consensus estimate from Briefing.com.
On a year-over-year basis, starts fell 7% from July 2009.
"Activity in the housing market is likely to remain depressed for several years," Paul Ashworth, U.S. economist at Capital Economics, said in a research note. "Housing is not going to lead the economic recovery."
Future activity: Applications for building permits, a gauge of future construction activity, fell over the month. Permits dropped to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 565,000 in July, down 3.1% from a revised 583,000 in June.
Economists were expecting a more modest drop to 573,000. Permits were down 3.7% from the same time last year.
"[The permits figure] is not an encouraging sign," Ashworth said. "The 'good' news, however, is that housing is so depressed it is hard to see activity falling much further from such a severely depressed level."
New homes by sector: New construction of single-family homes, the key sector of the housing market, fell 1.2% over the month to an annual rate of 421,000.
|Overnight Avg Rate||Latest||Change||Last Week|
|30 yr fixed||3.93%||4.14%|
|15 yr fixed||3.03%||3.14%|
|30 yr refi||4.02%||4.21%|
|15 yr refi||3.11%||3.21%|
Today's featured rates:
Some families are outraged at the sums they've been offered by Lufthansa as compensation for the Germanwings plane crash in March which killed 150 people. More
As the public weighs in, debates about the $10 bill redesign are heating up. More
Uber promises to pour $1 billion into India over next nine months, says the market is a global priority. More
Fast-food chains that operate in more than 30 locations nationwide are the sole target of a new rule in New York to hike their minimum wage to $15. But consumers and small business owners, as well as some employees, may be the ones to pay the price. More
You can't blame it on the economy anymore. More Millennials now have jobs, but are still living at home. More