Housing starts rebounded strongly in March from a big drop in February, the Commerce Department reported.

The reports show that groundbreaking for new homes climbed 8.3 percent—the largest rise since September—to a seasonally adjusted 1.780 million unit annual rate from an upwardly revised 1.644 million clip in February. Permits dipped to a seasonally adjusted annual 1.685 million unit pace from an upwardly revised 1.811 million rate the month before.

The starts beat the expectations of analysts, who had forecast a 1.694 million unit pace. Permits fell short of expectations of a 1.741 million pace.

Starts rose in all regions of the country but the West, climbing 9.8 percent in the Northeast, 25.4 percent in the Midwest, and 9.4 percent in the South, the busiest area for new home building. In the West, groundbreaking for new homes fell 4.5 percent.