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Economy in Brief

U.S. Housing Starts and Building Permits Decline
by Tom Moeller  May 16, 2018

Total housing starts in April fell 3.7% (+10.5% y/y) to 1.287 million (SAAR) from 1.336 million during March, revised from 1.319 million. A level of 1.318 million starts had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey.

Starts of single-family homes nudged 0.1% higher last month (7.2% y/y) to 894,000, following a 0.8% decline in March to 893,000 million units. Starts of multi-family units declined 11.3% to 393,000 units and reversed the increase during the prior month to 443,000 units.

Movement in starts last month varied around the country. In the Midwest, housing starts declined 16.3% (-18.4% y/y) to 164,000 following a 27.3% March increase. Starts in the West fell 12.0% (+12.0% y/y) to 346,000, the lowest level in six months. Housing starts in the Northeast were off  8.1% (+34.1% y/y) to 114,000, the lowest level since December. To the upside, starts in the South increased 6.4% (16.3% y/y) to 663,000 after a 1.3% gain.

Building permits declined 1.8% (+7.7% y/y) to 1.352 million units following a 4.1% March increase. Single-family permits improved 0.9% (7.9% y/y) to 859,000 after a 4.0% decline. Permits to build multi-family homes fell 6.3% (+7.4% y/y) to 493,000, after rising 20.4%.

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) Apr Mar Feb Apr Y/Y % 2017 2016 2015
Total 1,287 1,336 1,290 10.5 1,203 1,174 1,112
 Single-Family 894 893 900 7.2 849 782 715
 Multi-Family  393 443 390 18.7 354 392 397
Starts By Region
 Northeast 114 124 132 34.1 112 116 138
 Midwest 164 196 154 -18.4 179 182 153
 South 663 623 615 16.3 599 585 556
 West 346 393 389 12.0 313 291 265
Building Permits 1,352 1,377 1,323 7.7 1,254 1,207 1,183
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