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Economy in Brief

U.S. Housing Starts Decline Sharply
by Tom Moeller  April 19, 2016

Housing starts fell 8.8% (+14.2% y/y) during March to 1.089 million units (AR) from 1.194 million in February, revised from 1.178 million. It was the lowest level of starts since October. Expectations were for 1.89 million starts in the Action Economics Forecast Survey.

Starts of single-family homes declined 9.2% to 764,000, but remained 22.6% higher than one year earlier. This was the lowest point also since October. Multi-family starts, which include apartments & condominiums, were much weaker, and fell 7.9% (-1.8% y/y) to the lowest level since February of last year.

By region, starts in the Midwest declined 25.4% (+5.6% y/y) followed by a 15.7% decline (+30.8% y/y) in the West. In the South, starts were off 8.4% (+8.6% y/y), but in the Northeast starts rose by nearly two-thirds (21.0% y/y).

Permits to build a new home declined 7.7% (+4.6% y/y) to the lowest level in twelve months. Permits to build single-family homes eased 1.2% (+13.2% y/y), but multi-family permits dropped 18.6% (-9.3% y/y).

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

The Elusive Boost from Cheap Oil from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco can be found here.

Housing Starts (000s, SAAR) Mar Feb Jan Mar Y/Y % 2015 2014 2013
Total  1,089 1,194 1,117 14.2 1,107 1,001 928
 Single-Family 764 841 771 22.6 713 648 618
 Multi-Family 325 353 346 -1.8 395 356 307
Starts By Region
 Northeast 121 75 146 21.0 136 110 97
 Midwest 150 201 154 5.6 151 163 150
 South 555 606 573 8.6 555 496 464
 West 263 312 244 30.8 265 235 215
Building Permits 1,086 1,177 1,204 4.6 1,164 1,052 991
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