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Economy in Brief

U.S. Housing Starts Jump M/M But Trend Sideways
by Tom Moeller  July 19, 2011

New residential building activity just can't break out to the upside. Housing starts rose 14.6% last month to 629,000 (AR) following a downwardly revised no change in May. Despite the increase, however, the lift only made up for earlier months' weakness and the level of starts remained slightly below January. The June figure exceeded Consensus expectations for 575,000 starts.

If there is strength in the numbers it's in the multi-family area. Here, starts rose 30.4% last month following two months of decline. The trend gain is more impressive. Starts have been rising since late-2009 and have more-than-doubled the recession low. Starts of 2-to-4 building units generally have moved sideways. However, starts of larger buildings with 5 or more units rose roughly one-third last month and have more-than doubled over the last twelve.

Starts of single-family units rose a firm 9.4% last month but have risen just 0.4% y/y. The lethargy of the y/y gain is evidenced by a 20% decline since last year's peak that was charged by the first-time home-buyers tax credit.

Building permits rose 2.5% (6.7% y/y). Single-family permits nudged up 0.2% (-3.8% y/y) while multi-family permits rose 6.9% (34.0% 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) June May Apr Y/Y % 2010 2009 2008
Total 629 549 549 16.7 585 554 900
 Single-Family 453 414 411 0.4 471 442 616
 Multi-Family 176 135 138 100.0 114 112 284
Starts By Region
 Northeast 77 57 60 28.3 72 61 120
 Midwest 124 99 96 45.9 98 95 134
 South 292 264 274 2.1 296 281 451
 West 136 129 119 25.9 120 117 195
Building Permits 624 609 563 6.7 603 582 896
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