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Economy in Brief

U.S. Housing Starts Ease, But Permits Improve
by Tom Moeller  February 16, 2017

Housing starts during January declined 2.6% to 1.246 million (AR) from 1.279 million in December, revised from 1.226 million. Expectations had been for 1.215 million starts in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. Starts of single-family units increased 1.9% to 823,000 following two months of decline. Starts of multi-family homes declined 10.2% to 423,000 following a 45.8% jump.

By region, housing starts in the South jumped 20.0% to 690,000, the highest level since August 2007. Starts in the Northeast strengthened 55.4% to 143,000, the highest level in three months. Starts in the Midwest declined 17.9% to 188,000, the lowest level since September, while starts in the West plummeted 41.3% to 225,000, the lowest level since March 2015.

Building permits increased 4.6% to 1.285 million from 1.228 million. The latest level was the highest since November 2015. Permits to build single-family homes declined 2.7% (+11.1% y/y) to 808,000. Permits to build multi-family units increased 19.8% (3.5% y/y) to 477,000.

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

The Homeownership Gap Is Finally Closing from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York can be found here.

Housing Starts (000s, SAAR) Jan Dec Nov Jan Y/Y % 2016 2015 2014
Total 1,246 1,279 1,149 10.5 1,176 1,108 1,001
 Single-Family 823 808 826 6.2 784 713 648
 Multi-Family  423 471 323 19.8 392 395 356
Starts By Region
 Northeast 143 92 83 -3.4 116 136 109
 Midwest 188 229 214 21.3 182 151 159
 South 690 575 583 19.2 584 556 497
 West 225 383 269 -8.5 291 265 236
Building Permits 1,285 1,228 1,212 8.2 1,171 1,178 1,053
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