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Economy in Brief

U.S. Housing Starts Backpedal; Multi-family Starts Plummet
by Tom Moeller  December 16, 2016

Earlier vibrancy registered in the housing market was dimmed by last month's decline in housing starts. Starts fell 18.7% during November (-6.9% y/y) to an annual rate of 1.090 million units. That reversed most of October's 27.4% jump to 1.340 million, revised from 1.323 million. A decline to 1.230 million starts had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey.

Multi-family starts declined 45.1% (-31.9% y/y) to 262,000, and reversed October's 76.0% surge. Starts of single-family homes were off 4.1% (+5.3% y/y) to 828,000, but remained near the expansion high.

By region, starts in the Northeast led last month's weakness with a 52.1% drop. It was paced by an 81.2% decline in multi-family starts. Single-family starts fell 7.6%. Total starts in the West declined 22.1%. Multi-family starts fell by one third, and single family starts declined 15.3%. Starts in the Midwest were off 14.2% as multi-family starts fell by two-thirds, but single family starts gained 19.8%. Total starts declined 9.3% in the South. Multi-family starts fell 22.4, and single-family starts were off 4.6%.

Building permits declined 4.7% (-6.6% y/y) to 1.201 million units. Permits to build multi-family structures declined 13.0% to 423,000 (-23.2% y/y). Single-family permits improved 0.5% (5.9% y/y) to 778,000.

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) Nov Oct Sep Nov Y/Y % 2015 2014 2013
Total 1,090 1,340 1,052 -6.9 1,107 1,001 928
 Single-Family 828 863 781 5.3 713 648 618
 Multi-Family  262 477 271 -31.9 395 356 307
Starts By Region
 Northeast 80 167 94 -36.0 136 110 97
 Midwest 175 204 149 3.6 151 163 150
 South 567 625 534 -6.9 555 496 464
 West 268 344 275 0.0 265 235 215
Building Permits 1,201 1,260 1,225 -6.6 1,164 1,052 991
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