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Economy in Brief

U.S. Housing Starts Decline to Eight-Month Low
by Tom Moeller  June 16, 2017

New home building continued to exhibit weakness last month. Total housing starts fell 5.5% (-2.6% y/y) during May to 1.092 million (AR) from 1.156 million in April, revised from 1.172 million. It was the lowest level of starts since September. Starts of 1.218 million had been expected in the Action Economic Forecast Survey.

Starts of single-family homes fell 3.9% (+9.4% y/y) to 794,000, also the lowest level since September. Starts of multi-family units were off 9.7% (-26.7% y/y) to 298,000 (-26.7% y/y).

By region, starts in the Midwest declined 9.2% to 168,000 (-8.6% y/y), an eight-month low. In the South, starts fell 8.8% (-9.8% y/y) to 526,000, the fourth consecutive month of decline. Starts in the Northeast remained steady at 87,000 (+6.7% y/y), though that remained down by roughly two-thirds from the June 2015 high of 218,000. In the West, starts improved 1.3% (14.5% y/y) to 311,000, but have moved erratically sideways since the middle of last year.

Building permits fell 4.9% (+2.4% y/y) to 1.168 million from 1.228 million in March. It was the lowest level of permits since April of last year. Permits to build single-family homes eased 1.9% (+10.9% y/y) to 779,000 and multi-family permits declined 10.4% (-12.8% y/y) to 389,000.

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) May Apr Mar May Y/Y % 2016 2015 2014
Total 1,092 1,156 1,189 -2.6 1,17 1,107 1,001
 Single-Family 794 826 824 9.4 784 712 647
 Multi-Family  298 330 365 -26.7 393 395 355
Starts By Region
 Northeast 87 87 116 6.7 116 136 109
 Midwest 168 185 139 -8.6 185 150 159
 South 526 577 633 -9.8 584 556 497
 West 311 307 301 14.5 292 265 236
Building Permits 1,168 1,228 1,260 2.4 1,207 1,178 1,053
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