WASHINGTON — Housing starts declined in March, down 1% from February and 1% from the previous March, the Commerce Department’s Bureau of the Census reported Tuesday.

Starts of privately owned housing last month came in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,613,000, compared with 1,634,000 in February and 1,630,000 in March 2000.

In the first three months of this year, 349,500 housing units were started, down 4% from the first three months of last year, when 364,600 units were started.

In addition, the seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing units authorized by building permits in March was 1,615,000, or 4% less than the revised February rate of 1,675,000 but 1% more than the year-earlier estimate of 1,597,000.

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