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Economy in Brief

U.S. Housing Starts Increase to Eight-Year High in 2015
by Tom Moeller  January 20, 2016

During all of last year, housing starts increased 10.8% to 1.107 million units. The level was the highest since 2007 and double the 2009 low. During December, starts eased 2.5% to 1.149 million (AR) from 1.179 million, revised from 1.173 million. The latest figure disappointed expectations for 1.21 million starts in the Action Economic Forecast Survey.

Starts of single-family homes jumped 10.4% last year to 715,000 after a 4.9% gain in 2014. For December alone, starts declined 3.3% to 768,000, up 5.0% y/y. Starts in the West declined 6.2% (+12.5% y/y) last month and in the Midwest starts fell 4.6% (-20.8% y/y). Single-family starts were off 4.4% (+27.8% y/y) in the Northeast. Single-family starts in the Midwest declined 1.4% (+6.3% y/y).

Multi-family housing starts during all of last year improved 11.4% to 396,000 following stronger gains during the prior four years. In December alone, multi-family starts eased 1.0% to 381,000 (+6.7% y/y). The drop reflected a 26.2% decline (+10.3% y/y) in the Midwest and a 7.9% drop (+38.1% y/y) in the South. In the West, starts fell 10.8% (-45.8% y/y) but in the Northeast, multi-family starts rose by nearly two-thirds (56.8% y/y).

Building permits increased 11.5% last year. For December alone, however, they backpedaled 3.9% (+17.4% y/y). Permits to build single-family homes rose 1.8% last month (8.2% y/y) but for multi-family units they declined 3.9% (+17.4% y/y).

The housing starts figures can be found in Haver's USECON database. The expectations figure is contained in the AS1REPNA database.

Housing Starts (000s, SAAR) Dec Nov Oct Dec Y/Y % 2015 2014 2013
Total 1,149 1,179 1,071 5.6 1,107 1,001 928
 Single-Family 768 794 715 5.0 715 648 618
 Multi-Family 381 385 356 6.7 396 356 307
Starts By Region
 Northeast 163 131 136 43.8 139 110 97
 Midwest 148 169 173 -11.9 152 163 150
 South 583 603 514 13.9 554 496 464
 West 255 276 248 -15.5 266 235 215
Building Permits 1,232 1,282 1,161 17.4 1,173 1,052 991
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