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Economy in Brief

U.S. Housing Starts Lose Upward Momentum
by Tom Moeller  June 17, 2014

Housing starts during May declined 6.5% to 1.001 million (+8.0% y/y from 1.071 million in April, revised from 1.072 million. The latest figure fell short of expectations for 1.028 million starts in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. Last month's decline reflected a 7.6% retreat (+17.7% y/y) in starts of multi-family homes and a 5.9% drop (+3.1% y/y) in starts of single-family homes.

By region, starts in the Northeast declined 25.2% (-5.3% y/y) to 95,000 while starts in the Midwest fell 16.5% (+24.3% y/y) to 172,000. Starts in the West were off 16.3% (-0.5% y/y) to 205,000 while starts in the South improved 7.3% (9.7% y/y) to 529,000.

Building permits reversed April's gain with a 6.4% fall (-6.4% y/y) to 991,000. Permits to build single-family homes rebounded 3.7% (-5.3% y/y) to 619,000, the highest level in six months. Permits to build multi-family homes, however, declined 19.5% (-8.4% y/y) to 372,000.

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

Forecast Disagreement in the Survey of Professional Forecasters from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia can be found here.

Housing Starts (000s, SAAR) May Apr Mar May Y/Y % 2013 2012 2011
Total 1,001 1,071 950 8.0 929 783 612
 Single-Family 625 664 635 3.1 621 537 434
 Multi-Family 376 407 315 17.7 308 247 178
Starts By Region
 Northeast 95 127 124 -5.3 96 80 68
 Midwest 172 206 143 24.3 149 128 103
 South 529 493 478 9.7 467 400 309
 West 205 245 205 -0.5 217 175 132
Building Permits 991 1,059 1,000 -6.4 964 829 624
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