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Economy in Brief

U.S. Housing Starts Remain Fairly Stable
by Tom Moeller  March 18, 2014

Housing starts in February slipped 0.2% to 907,000 units (-6.4% y/y) from 909,000 during January, revised up from 880,000. The latest level nearly matched expectations for 910,000 starts in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. Starts of single-family homes held roughly steady m/m at 583,000 (-10.6% y/y) following a 13.2% January drop. Starts of multi-family homes fell 1.2% (+2.2% y/y) to 324,000. It was the third consecutive monthly decline.

By region, starts in the Northeast fell by more than one-third m/m (-29.2% y/y) and starts in the West were off 5.5% (+0.9% y/y). To the upside, starts in the Midwest rebounded by more than one-third m/m (-42.2% y/y) yet fell nearly two-thirds during the last three months. Starts in the South recovered 7.3% (4.8% y/y).

Building permits improved 7.7% (6.9% y/y) to 1,018 units. The gain reversed declines during the last two months. Permits to build single-family homes declined 1.8% (-2.0% y/y), down for the third consecutive month. Permits to build multi-family homes jumped 24.3% (22.2% y/y) after a 9.2% decline.

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) Feb Jan Dec Feb Y/Y% 2013 2012 2011
Total 907 909 1,024 -6.4 929 783 612
 Single-Family 583 581 689 -10.6 621 537 434
 Multi-Family 324 328 333 2.2 308 247 178
Starts By Region
 Northeast 75 120 82 -29.2 96 80 68
 Midwest 78 58 153 -42.2 149 128 103
 South 529 493 512 4.8 467 400 309
 West 225 238 277 0.9 217 175 132
Building Permits 1,018 945 991 6.9 964 829 624
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