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Economy in Brief

U.S. Housing Starts Improve Slightly
by Tom Moeller  June 16, 2011

New activity in the housing sector continued to languish last month. Housing starts rose just 3.5% during May to 560,000 (AR) following an 8.8% April decline, initially reported as -10.6% . The latest figure remained near the lowest in two years and compared to Consensus expectations for 546,000 starts.

Single-family starts rose 3.7% and recovered the prior month's decline. Activity in the multi-family area showed an increase of just 2.9% but that followed a 21.7% April drop. Starts of 2-to-4 building units fell by one-half m/m (-41.7% y/y) but starts of larger buildings with 5 or more units rose 8.9% (24.1% y/y).

Building permits rose 8.7% (5.2% y/y). Single-family permits rose 2.5% (-6.9% y/y) while multi-family permits rose by nearly one-quarter m/m (40.8% y/y).

The housing starts figures can be found in Haver's USECON database. The expectations figure is contained in the AS1REPNA database.

Housing Starts (000s, SAAR) May Apr Mar Y/Y % 2010 2009 2008
Total 560 541 593 -3.4 585 554 900
 Single-Family 419 404 418 -8.9 471 442 616
 Multi-Family 141 137 175 17.5 114 112 284
Starts By Region
 Northeast 58 60 61 -18.3 72 61 120
 Midwest 94 98 81 -11.3 98 95 134
 South 271 267 337 -6.2 296 281 451
 West 137 116 114 20.2 120 117 195
Building Permits 612 563 574 5.2 603 582 896
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