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Economy in Brief

U.S. Housing Starts Suffer Due To Heavy Snowfall
by Tom Moeller  March 17, 2015

It's been a harsh winter in some regions of the country. Housing starts during February declined 17.0% to 897,000 units (-3.3% y/y) from 1.081 million in January, revised from 1.065 million. The decline disappointed expectations for 1.045 million starts in the Action Economics Forecast Survey.

Single-family starts fell 15.2% m/m to 592,000 (+0.5% y/y) versus 698,000 in January. The decline was accompanied by a 20.8% drop in multi-family starts to 304,000 (-10.3% y/y) versus 384,000 in January.

Record snowfall dropped housing starts in the Northeast by 56.5% to 47,000 units (-46.0% y/y), the lowest level since early-2009. Heavy snows in the Midwest also lowered starts 37.0% to 97,000 (-20.5% y/y). In the West, starts declined 18.2% (+10.1 y/y). Starts in the Southern region suffered a lesser impact and fell 2.5% (+2.4% y/y).

Building permits improved 3.0% last month to 1.092 million (7.7% y/y) from 1.060 million. Single-family permits declined 6.2% to 620,000 (+2.8% y/y) but multi-family permits rose 18.3% to 472,000 (14.8% y/y).

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 % 2014 2013 2012
Total 897 1,081 1,081 -3.3 1,001 930 784
 Single-Family 592 698 725 0.5 646 621 537
 Multi-Family 304 384 356 -10.3 355 309 247
Starts By Region
 Northeast 47 108 113 -46.0 110 97 80
 Midwest 97 154 170 -20.5 160 149 129
 South 514 527 499 2.4 496 467 400
 West 239 292 299 10.1 236 217 175
Building Permits 1,092 1,060 1,060 7.7 1,033 990 829
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