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Economy in Brief

U.S. Housing Starts & Building Permits Recover
by Tom Moeller  March 19, 2013

Last month saw a firming in home building activity. Total housing starts ticked up 0.8% (27.7% y/y) to 917,000 (AR) following a decline to 910,000 during January, initially reported as 890,000. The latest figure roughly matched the median estimate of 916,000 in the Action Economics survey of economists. It was close to the highest level since July 2008. Starts of single-family homes gained 0.5% (31.5% y/y) in February to 618,000 and made up the prior month's decline. Starts in the multi-family sector rose 1.4% (20.6% y/y) to 299,000.

The near-term future for housing activity also looks solid. Building permits rose 4.6% (33.8% y/y) to 946,000 last month. It was the highest level since June 2008. Permits to build single-family homes rose 2.7% (25.5% y/y) while permits to build multi-family units rose 8.1% (51.1% y/y).

By region, starts in the Midwest recovered by roughly one-third both m/m and y/y. Multi-family starts regained their footing after January's sharp drop but single-family starts in the Midwest fell moderately (+5.7% y/y) for the second month. Starts in the Northeast also recovered 18.4% (56.1% y/y) as single-family starts rose 20.4% (18.0% y/y) and multi-family starts gained 15.8% (175.0% y/y). In the South, total starts fell 5.7% (+10.5% y/y) due to a decline in multi-family. In the West, starts fell 7.2% but were up by two-thirds from last year.

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

The Region's Job Rebound from Superstorm Sandy from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York can be found here.

 

Housing Starts (000s, SAAR) Feb Jan Dec Y/Y% 2012 2011 2010
Total 917 910 982 27.7 781 612 586
 Single-Family 618 615 617 31.5 534 434 471
 Multi-Family 299 295 365 20.6 247 178 114
Starts By Region
 Northeast 103 87 116 56.1 78 68 72
 Midwest 132 96 187 33.3 129 103 97
 South 463 491 465 10.5 400 309 296
 West 219 236 214 63.4 173 132 120
Building Permits 946 904 909 33.8 800 624 604
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