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Economy in Brief

U.S. Housing Starts Fall Sharply Amidst Winter Storms
by Tom Moeller  February 19, 2014

Housing starts in January declined 16.0% (-2.0% y/y) to 880,000 units (AR) from 1.048 million in December, revised up from 999,000. The latest level fell short of expectations for 950,000 starts in the Action Economics survey. Starts of single-family homes plunged 15.9% (-6.7% y/y) to 573,000 and added to a 4.5% drop at yearend. Starts of multi-family homes declined 16.3% (+8.1% y/y) to 307,000 following a 5.4% December shortfall.

By region, starts in the Midwest took the greatest hit and fell by two-thirds (-47.4% y/y). Starts in the West were off 17.4% (+1.7% y/y) while starts in the South fell 12.5% (-5.4% y/y). In the Northeast, starts turned in a 61.9% gain +56.3% y/y) reflecting a 150% rise (123.7% y/y) in multi-family units.

Building permits fell 5.4% (+2.4% y/y) to 937,000 units. It was the third consecutive monthly decline. Permits to build single-family homes declined 1.3% (+2.4% y/y) after a 4.8% December drop. Permits to build multi-family homes fell 12.1% (+2.4% y/y) after a 1.3% rise.

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) Jan Dec Nov Jan Y/Y% 2013 2012 2011
Total 880 1,048 1,101 -2.0 931 783 612
 Single-Family 573 681 713 6.7 622 537 434
 Multi-Family 307 367 388 8.1 309 247 178
Starts By Region
 Northeast 136 84 94 56.3 96 80 68
 Midwest 50 155 212 -47.4 149 128 103
 South 457 522 567 -5.4 468 400 309
 West 237 287 228 1.7 218 175 132
Building Permits 937 991 1,017 2.4 964 829 624
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