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Economy in Brief

U.S. Housing Starts Ease While Permits Rise Ahead of Hurricanes' Major Impacts
by Tom Moeller  September 19, 2017

In the month before housing starts & permits were meaningfully affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, stability in these housing data was evident. Total starts eased 0.8% (+0.5 y/y) to 1.180 million units (AR) in August from 1.190 million units in July, revised from 1.155 million units. Starts of 1.175 million had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey.

Single-family starts increased 1.6% (14.4% y/y) to 851,000 from 838,000. Starts of multi-family units declined 6.5% (-25.1% y/y) to 329,000, the lowest level in nine months.

By region, starts in the Northeast declined 8.7% (-19.0% y/y) to 105,000 led by 18.8% fewer multi-family starts. In the South, starts fell 7.9% (-1.4% y/y) paced by a one-third m/m drop in multi-family starts. In the Midwest, starts increased 22.0% (14.2% y/y) to 200,000, as multi-family starts almost doubled m/m. Starts in the West gained 4.0% (5.0% y/y) to 312,000 as single-family starts rose 6.5%.

Building permits increased 5.7% (2.6% y/y) to 1.300 million from 1.230 million in July. Permits to build single-family homes eased 1.5% to 880,000 (+7.3% y/y), while multi-family permits strengthened 19.6% (14.4% y/y) to 500,000.

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) Aug Jul Jun Aug Y/Y % 2016 2015 2014
Total 1,180 1,190 1,217 0.5 1,17 1,107 1,001
 Single-Family 851 838 857 14.4 784 712 647
 Multi-Family  329 352 360 -25.1 393 395 355
Starts By Region
 Northeast 105 115 158 -19.0 116 136 109
 Midwest 200 164 202 14.2 185 150 159
 South 563 611 529 -1.4 584 556 497
 West 312 300 328 5.0 292 265 236
Building Permits 1,300 1,230 1,275 2.6 1,207 1,178 1,053
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