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Economy in Brief

U.S. Single-family Housing Starts Improve; Total Led Lower By Multi-family
by Tom Moeller  February 20, 2013

Despite record cold temperatures, starts of single-family homes inched up 0.8% last month to 613,000 (20.0% y/y), the highest level since July 2008. Total housing starts of 890,000 in January, however, were off 8.5% (+23.6% y/y) due to a 24.1% decline (+32.5% y/y) in starts of multi-family homes. Consensus expectations were for a rise in total starts to 920,000. December's level was revised to 973,000 from 954,000 reported last month.

By region, starts in the Midwest fell by one-half m/m (-10.4% y/y) to 95,000 led lower by a collapse in multi-family starts to 2,000 (-91.7% y/y) from 87,000 in December. Single-family starts in the Midwest fell a lesser 9.7% (+13.4% y/y). Also crippled by heavy snows were starts in the Northeast where multi-family starts fell 59.0% (-16.7% y/y). Starts of single-family homes fell a lesser 9.1% (+13.6% y/y). In the South, total starts rose 4.1% (19.9% y/y) to 483,000 and in the West, starts rose 16.7% (73.0% y/y).

Building permits in January rose 1.8% (35.2% y/y) to 925,000. Permits for single-family homes advanced 1.9% last month (29.2% y/y). Multi-family permits increased 1.5% m/m but were up nearly one-half y/y.

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

Why Did Young Families Lose So Much Wealth During the Crisis? The Role of Homeownership from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis can be found here here.

Housing Starts (000s, SAAR) Jan Dec Nov Y/Y% 2012 2011 2010
Total 890 973 841 23.6 781 612 586
 Single-Family 613 608 570 20.0 534 434 471
 Multi-Family 277 365 271 32.5 247 178 114
Starts By Region
 Northeast 75 116 68 1.4 78 68 72
 Midwest 95 190 154 -10.4 129 103 97
 South 493 464 451 19.9 400 309 296
 West 237 203 168 73.0 173 132 120
Building Permits 925 909 900 35.2 800 624 604
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