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Economy in Brief

U.S. Housing Starts Decline Sharply
by Tom Moeller  January 18, 2018

Total housing starts fell 8.2% (-6.0% y/y) during December to 1.192 million from 1.299 million in November, revised from 1.297 million. A level of 1.275 million starts had been expected in the Action Economic Forecast Survey. During all of 2017, housing starts increased 2.4% to 1.202 million, the highest level in ten years.

Starts of single-family homes declined 11.8% (+3.5% y/y) to 836,000. During all of last year, single-family starts gained 8.5% to 848,000.  Multi-family starts improved 1.4% (-22.6% y/y) to 356,000 and totaled 354,000 last year, down 9.8% y/y.

Movement in starts last month varied greatly around the country. Starts in the South declined 14.2% to 582,000 following two months of increase. Starts in the Northeast fell by 4.3% to 88,000, the lowest level since May. In the Midwest, starts eased 2.2% to 178,000, the lowest level in four months. Housing starts in the West eased 0.9% to 344,000.

Building permits eased 0.1% (+2.8% y/y) to 1.302 million after a 1.0% November decline. Single-family permits rose 1.8% (6.1% y/y) to 881,000. Permits to build multi-family homes fell 3.9% (-3.4% y/y) to 421,000, after falling 6.0%.

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 % 2017 2016 2015
Total 1,192 1,299 1,261 -6.0 1,202 1,174 1,112
 Single-Family 836 948 887 3.5 848 782 715
 Multi-Family  356 351 374 -22.6 354 392 397
Starts By Region
 Northeast 88 92 145 -1.1 111 116 138
 Midwest 178 192 200 -19.8 180 182 153
 South 582 678 613 2.8 598 585 556
 West 344 347 303 -12.0 312 291 265
Building Permits 1,302 1,303 1,316 2.8 1,258 1,207 1,178
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