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Economy in Brief

U.S. Housing Starts Reach 2007 High
by Tom Moeller  January 19, 2017

The housing market exhibited firm growth in 2016. Overall housing starts increased to 1.168 million, the highest level since 2007. The gain was paced by a rise in single-family starts to 783,000. Multi-family starts rose to 385,000. Building permits declined slightly last year to 1.171 million.

During December alone, total starts rebounded 11.3% to 1.226 million (AR, 5.7% y/y), and recouped most a November decline to 1.102 million in November, revised from 1.090. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 1.184 million starts. Starts of single-family homes declined 4.0%, however, in December to 795,000 (+3.9% y/y) from 828,000. It was the lowest level of starts in three months. Starts of multi-family units jumped by more than one half m/m to 431,000 (9.1% y/y), though these starts were very erratic m/m all during 2016. Building permits in December eased 0.2% (+0.7% y/y) to 1.210 million. They reached a peak of 1.334 million in June of 2015.

By region, housing starts in the Midwest, jumped 38.4% y/y to 227,000. Starts in the West also grew roughly one-third y/y to 331,000. In the South, however, starts weakened 3.2% y/y to 572,000. In the Northeast, starts declined 38.5% y/y to 96,000 during December.

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) Dec Nov Oct Dec Y/Y % 2016 2015 2014
Total 1,226 1,102 1,320 5.7 1,168 1,108 1,001
 Single-Family 795 828 868 3.9 783 713 648
 Multi-Family  431 274 452 9.1 385 395 356
Starts By Region
 Northeast 96 81 161 -38.5 116 136 109
 Midwest 227 173 197 38.4 182 151 159
 South 572 580 619 -3.2 584 556 497
 West 331 268 343 32.9 286 265 236
Building Permits 1,210 1,212 1,260 0.7 1,171 1,178 1,053
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