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Economy in Brief

U.S. Housing Starts and Building Permits Recover
by Tom Moeller  December 18, 2018

Total housing starts rose 3.2% (-3.6% y/y) during November to 1.256 million (AR) from 1.217 million in October, revised from 1.228 million. The level exceeded expectations for 1.230 million starts in the Action Economics Forecast Survey.

A 22.4% rise (21.7% y/y) in starts of multi-family units to 432,000 accounted for last month's gain in the total. It followed a 1.4% decline. Starts of single-family units fell 4.6% (-13.1% y/y) to 824,000, down for the third straight month.

Last month's increase in total starts reflected a roughly one-third improvement, both m/m and y/y, in the Northeast to 124,000 units from 90,000. Starts in the South rose 15.1% (1.3% y/y) to 687,000, an 11-year high. Countering these increases was a 19.2% decline (-12.4% y/y) in the Midwest to 156,000, which more-than-reversed the rise during October. Housing starts in the West fell 14.2% (-18.4% y/y) to 289,000, the lowest level since July.

Building permits increased 5.0% (0.4% y/y) to 1.328 million after a 0.4% slip. Single-family permits edged 0.1% higher (-1.9% y/y) to 848,000 following a 0.8% decline. Permits to build multi-family homes jumped 14.8% (4.6% y/y) to 480,000 after a 0.5% rise.

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) Nov Oct Sep Nov Y/Y % 2017 2016 2015
Total 1,256 1,217 1,237 -3.6 1,208 1,177 1,107
 Single-Family 824 864 879 -13.1 852 785 713
 Multi-Family  432 353 358 21.7 356 393 394
Starts By Region
 Northeast 124 90 141 33.3 111 116 135
 Midwest 156 193 171 -12.4 180 185 150
 South 687 597 568 1.3 603 585 557
 West 289 337 357 -18.4 314 292 265
Building Permits 1,328 1,265 1,270 0.4 1,286 1,206 1,178
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