US home building rose slightly in March, led by apartments

FILE- In this Feb. 26, 2018, file photo, work continues on a new development in Fair Lawn, N.J. On Tuesday, April 17, the Commerce Department reports

FILE- In this Feb. 26, 2018, file photo, work continues on a new development in Fair Lawn, N.J. On Tuesday, April 17, the Commerce Department reports

U.S. builders broke ground on more apartment buildings last month, pushing up overall home construction 1.9 percent.

The Commerce Department says housing starts rose in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.32 million, driven by a big 16 percent gain in apartment buildings. Single-family home construction slipped 3.7 percent.

Home construction has grown steadily since the housing crash bottomed out in 2012 and has emerged as a potential source of long-term economic growth. The pace of homebuilding is still below its long-run average of about 1.5 million houses and apartments a year. And millennials are increasingly moving out on their own and seeking to buy homes.

Home construction rose nearly 11 percent in March from a year earlier, the government said. Single-family home construction is up 5.2 percent.