Housing starts fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 628,000, compared with a revised figure for September of 630,000.
The rate of privately owned housing starts, at 430,000, is 3.9 percent above the revised September rate of 414,000 housing starts.
Permits issued for privately owned housing units rose 10.9 percent month to month to an annual rate of 653,000. A year earlier in October, the annual rate stood at 555,000 permits.
Permits issued are an indicator of what direction construction starts might take one or two months down the road.
Completed housing projects in October were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 584,000, which is 5.7 percent below the revised figure for September of 619,000 and 2.8 percent below October 2010.