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Economy in Brief

U.S. Housing Starts and Building Permits Decline
by Tom Moeller  September 20, 2016

Housing starts fell 5.8% during August (+0.9% y/y) to 1.142 million following a 1.4% July increase to 1.212 million, revised from 1.211 million. It was the lowest level of starts in three months. Expectations were for 1.19 million starts in the Action Economics Forecast Survey.

Starts of single-family homes declined 6.0% (-1.2% y/y) to 722,000 following a 0.7% improvement. It was the lowest level of starts since October. Multi-family starts, which include apartments & condominiums, fell 5.4% (+4.7% y/y) to 420,000.

By region, starts were mixed last month. In the South, starts declined 14.8% (-13.1% y/y) to the lowest level since February. Elsewhere in the country, starts improved. In the Northeast, starts increased 7.6% (24.8% y/y) to the highest level since March. Starts in the Midwest rose 5.6% (17.1% y/y), but remained 19.0% below the February high. Starts in the West gained 1.8% (15.7% y/y) to the highest level in three months.

Permits to build a new home eased 0.4% last month (-2.3% y/y) to 1.139 million following a 0.8% dip. Permits to build single-family homes increased 3.7% (3.8% y/y) and reversed July's decline. Multi-family permits declined 7.2% (-11.8% y/y) to the lowest level since April.

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

Housing Starts (000s, SAAR) Aug Jul Jun Aug Y/Y % 2015 2014 2013
Total 1,142 1,212 1,195 0.9 1,107 1,001 928
 Single-Family 722 768 763 -1.2 713 648 618
 Multi-Family 420 444 432 4.7 395 356 307
Starts By Region
 Northeast 141 131 113 24.8 136 110 97
 Midwest 171 162 190 17.1 151 163 150
 South 543 637 589 -13.1 555 496 464
 West 287 282 303 15.7 265 235 215
Building Permits 1,139 1,144 1,153 -2.3 1,164 1,052 991
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