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Economy in Brief

U.S. Housing Starts and Building Permits Recover
by Tom Moeller  April 17, 2018

Total housing starts in March increased 1.9% to 1.319 million units (SAAR) following February's 3.3% decline to 1.295 million, revised from 1.236 million. A level of 1.260 million starts had been expected in the Action Economic Forecast Survey.

An increased number of multi-family starts accounted for last month's overall gain. They jumped 14.4% (23.8% y/y) to 452,000, the highest level since October 2016. Starts of single-family homes declined 3.7% last month (+5.2% y/y) to 867,000 from February's 900,000. It was the lowest level in three months.

Movement in starts last month varied around the country. Housing starts in the Midwest strengthened 22.4% last month (29.5% y/y) to 180,000 after a 1.4% February rise. In the Northeast,s starts notched 0.8% higher (13.8% y/y) to 132,000 after two months of strong increase. Starts in the West declined 1.5% (28.2% y/y) to 386,000 and reversed February's 1.8% gain. Starts in the South slipped 0.6% to 621,000 after a 9.9% decline.

Building permits increased 2.5% (7.5% y/y) to 1.395 million following a 4.1% February decline. Single-family permits declined 5.5% (+1.7% y/y) to 840,000 after a 1.4% increase in February. Permits to build multi-family homes jumped 19.0% (18.4% y/y) to 514,000, after falling 13.6%.

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 % 2017 2016 2015
Total 1,319 1,295 1,339 10.9 1,203 1,174 1,112
 Single-Family 867 900 899 5.2 849 782 715
 Multi-Family  452 395 440 23.8 354 392 397
Starts By Region
 Northeast 132 131 115 13.8 112 116 138
 Midwest 180 147 145 29.5 179 182 153
 South 621 625 694 -1.9 599 585 556
 West 386 392 385 28.2 313 291 265
Building Permits 1,354 1,321 1,377 7.5 1,254 1,207 1,183
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