Construction of new homes, as well as new building permits, declined more than expected in February, indicating that the U.S. housing industry’s recovery is still weak, even as the rest of the economy improves.

The housing starts dropped 22.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 479,000 units in February, the biggest decline since March 1984, the Commerce Department said on Wednesday. Markets had expected the housing starts to rise to 580,000 units in February.

Also, new building permits, a measure of future construction, fell 8.2 percent to 517,000 in February against the revised figure of 563,000 in December. Economists had expected permits to increase slightly to 580,000 units in the month. Analysts said that housing demand in the nation to remain weak until the labor market shows sustained improvement.

The unemployment rate in the US fell to 8.9 percent in February from 9 percent in January, marking the third consecutive monthly drop,  according to the Labor Department.

While the construction of single-family homes decreased 12 percent to 375,000 in February, multifamily home starts slumped 46 percent to 104,000. Building permits for single-family homes fell 9.3 percent to 382,000 in February on annual basis.