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Economy in Brief

U.S. Housing Starts Remain Near 1991 Lows
by Tom Moeller February 20, 2008

Housing starts last month did rise slightly as expected to 1.012M units, up 0.8% from December. But the gain did little to dent m/m declines of 14.8% in December and 7.5% during November. As a result housing starts remained near the lows of 1991.

Last month, all of the increase in the total was due to a 22.3% gain in starts of condos & coops.

Single family starts in January fell 5.2% after like declines during each of the prior six months. The decline to .743M was to the lowest level since January 1991. Since the peak in early 2006, starts of single family homes are down 59.6%.

By region, single family starts in the Northeast rose by nearly one half m/m to the highest level since last June. That rise was countered by a 20.3% (-49.1% y/y) decline in the West. Single family starts in the Midwest were stable m/m (-31.1% y/y) and in the South, single family starts fell 9.8% (-32.3% y/y).

Building permits fell 3.0% (-35.1% y/y). Single-family permits fell 4.1% (-40.3% y/y).

Liquidity, Monetary Policy, and Financial Cycles from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York is available here.

Housing Starts (000s, AR) January December Y/Y 2007 2006 2005
Total 1,012 1,004 -27.9% 1,344 1,812 2,073
  Single-Family 743 784 -33.8% 1,039 1,474 1,719
  Multi-Family 269 220 -3.9% 304 338 354
Building Permits 1,048 1,080 -33.1% 1,371 1,842 2,159
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