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Economy in Brief

U.S. Housing Starts Fall To Their Lowest In Three Months
by Tom Moeller  September 20, 2011

Forward momentum has yet to build in the housing sector. Housing starts fell 5.0% to 571,000 units (AR) during August, the lowest level since May, after a deepened 2.3% July decline. Expectations had been for 593,000 starts which have moved sideways since the initial recovery off the recession floor in 2009. As a result, the level of new building activity remains nearly three-quarters below the 2006 high.

Starts of multi-family units led the August decline with a 13.5% m/m drop to 154,000. Nevertheless, the trend in starts is positive. They have roughly doubled the recession low. Starts of 2-to-4 building units have lost their earlier upward momentum. Conversely, though starts of buildings with 5-or-more units slipped last month, they have tripled since the recession low.

Starts of single-family units fell 1.4% last month (-2.3% y/y). They have been moving sideways for a year and are down 26.3% from the temporary peak in April 2010. Since the 2006 high, single-family starts have fallen by more than three-quarters

Building permits increased 3.2% (7.8% y/y) and more-than-reversed the July decline. Single-family permits rose 2.5% (2.0% y/y) and multi-family permits rose 4.5% (21.8% y/y).

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

What's It Worth? Property Taxes and Assessment Practices from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia can be found here.

Housing Starts (000s, SAAR) Aug Jul Jun Y/Y % 2010 2009 2008
Total 571 601 615 -5.8 585 554 900
 Single-Family 417 423 449 -2.3 471 442 616
 Multi-Family 154 178 166 -14.0 114 112 284
Starts By Region
 Northeast 61 86 68 -15.3 72 61 120
 Midwest 80 78 126 -25.2 98 95 134
 South 292 302 288 1.7 296 281 451
 West 138 135 133 -1.4 120 117 195
Building Permits 620 601 617 7.8 603 582 896
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