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Economy in Brief

U.S. Housing Starts Ease, While Building Permits Rise
by Tom Moeller  April 18, 2017

Housing starts during March declined 6.8% to 1.215 million (AR), and retraced all of February's increase to 1.303 million, revised from 1.288 million. Expectations had been for 1.256 million starts in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. Starts of single-family units retreated 6.2% to 821,000 and gave back most of February's increase to a ten-year high. Starts of multi-family homes declined 7.9% to 394,000, off 15.5% during the last three months.

By region, housing starts in the West retreated 16.0% (+9.2% y/y) to 284,000 and have been range-bound since October. Elsewhere in the country, starts in the South fell 2.9% (+19.4% y/y) to 645,000, but remained near the August 2007 high. Starts in the Midwest fell 16.4% (-2.5% y/y) to 155,000, the lowest level in six months. In the Northeast, starts increased 12.9% (-14.9% y/y) to 131,000, the highest level since October.

Building permits increased 3.6% (17.0% y/y) to 1.260 million and recovered from  February's decline to 1.216 million units. Permits to build single-family homes eased 1.1% (+13.5% y/y), and have moved sideways for three months. Permits to build multi-family units increased 13.8% (24.1% y/y) to 437,000, but remained one-third below the June 2015 peak.

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) Mar Feb Jan Mar Y/Y % 2016 2015 2014
Total 1,215 1,303 1,241 9.2 1,176 1,108 1,001
 Single-Family 821 875 813 9.3 784 713 648
 Multi-Family  394 428 428 8.8 392 395 356
Starts By Region
 Northeast 131 116 126 -14.9 116 136 109
 Midwest 155 185 202 -2.5 182 151 159
 South 645 664 681 19.4 584 556 497
 West 284 338 232 9.2 291 265 236
Building Permits 1,260 1,216 1,293 17.0 1,171 1,178 1,053
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