U.S. housing starts sank to a seasonally adjusted 479,000 in February, the lowest level in 23 months, as building permits dropped to a record low, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday.

Housing starts declined 22.5% from the January level of 618,000, which was revised higher from 596,000 reported last month. Starts fell in every region and dropped to a record low in the Midwest.

Building permits declined 8.2% from an upwardly revised 563,000 in January. Building permits fell in every region and hit record lows in the Northeast and the West.

Economists expected 570,000 building permits and housing starts, according to the median estimate from Thomson Reuters.

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