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Economy in Brief

U.S. Housing Starts Decline Unexpectedly In May But Trend Improves
by Tom Moeller  June 19, 2012

Last month, housing starts fell 4.8% to 708,000. The figure disappointed expectations for 725,000 starts. However, the picture for home building activity may have nevertheless brightened. The April level of starts was revised up to 744,000 from 717,000 and the Q2 average so far of 726,000 was 1.5% higher than Q1 and the highest level of the economic recovery.

Starts of single-family homes rose 3.2% (26.2% y/y) to 516,000 from an upwardly revised 500,000. Starts of multi-family homes fell by nearly one quarter month-to-month but were up one-third y/y. The performance amongst regions was mixed with only the West showing a m/m improvement

Building permits jumped 7.9% (25.0% y/y) to the highest level of the recovery. Single-family permits rose 4.0% (19.9% y/y) while multi-family permits increased 15.3% (34.9% 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 % 2011 2010 2009
Total 708 744 706 28.5 612 586 554
 Single-Family 516 500 481 26.2 434 471 442
 Multi-Family 192 244 225 35.2 178 114 112
Starts By Region
 Northeast 63 79 87 10.5 68 72 61
 Midwest 111 128 116 11.0 103 97 95
 South 367 391 354 39.5 309 296 281
 West 167 146 149 27.5 131 120 117
Building Permits 780 723 769 25.0 624 604 582
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