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Economy in Brief

U.S. Housing Starts Lowest Since 1992
by Tom Moeller October 17, 2007

With a 10.2% m/m decline last month, housing starts at 1.191M units fell to the lowest level since 1992. Consensus expectations had been for a lesser drop to 1.29M starts. The August figure was little revised.

Single-family starts fell hard for the sixth straight month. At 963M units single family also fell to their lowest since 1992 with a 1.7% fall.

In September, the decline in single family starts was led by an 11.5% (-28.0 y/y) drop in the Midwest. In the West single family starts fell 1.4% (-32.2% y/y) and in the South the m/m decline was limited to 0.2% (-32.4% y/y). Single family starts in the Northeast actually posted a rise of 9.6% (-20.0% y/y) but that is no sign of stabilization as the level was still one third below the the 3Q average.

Starts of multi-family structures fell by one third, month to month to the lowest level since 1994.

Building permits also were weak and fell 7.3% (-25.9% y/y) with single-family permits off a similar 7.1% (-28.6% y/y).

A Tale of Two Crisis from the Federal Reserve Board of St. Louis is available here.

Housing Starts (000s, AR) Sept Aug July Y/Y 2006 2005 2004
Total 1,191 1,327 1,371 -30.8% 1,812 2,073 1,950
  Single-Family 963 980 1,058 -30.8% 1,474 1,719 1,604
  Multi-Family 228 347 313 -30.9% 338 354 345
Building Permits 1,226 1,322 1,389 -25.9% 1,842 2,159 2,058
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