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Economy in Brief

U.S. Housing Starts Post Disappointing Rebound from Winter Low
by Tom Moeller  April 16, 2015

Housing starts during March improved 2.0% to 926,000 units (-3.5% y/y). The gain followed declines during the prior two months totaling 16.0%. February's level of starts was revised to 908,000 from 897,000. Last month's improvement disappointed expectations for 1.040 million starts in the Action Economics Forecast Survey.

Single-family starts rebounded 4.4% m/m to 618,00 (-3.8% y/y) after two months of decline totaling 18.3%. The gain was accompanied by a 2.5% drop in multi-family starts to 308,000 (-2.7% y/y) following two months of decline totaling 11.2%.

Starts in the Northeast rebounded by more than half m/m to 101,000 units (-19.8% y/y). In the Midwest, starts recovered by roughly one-third to 126,000 (-13.0% y/y) and mostly offset February's decline. Starts in the West declined 19.3% (-3.4% y/y) to 201,000, the lowest level since April. The Southern region realized a 3.5% drop (+3.1% y/y) to 498,000.

Building permits declined 5.7% last month to 1.039 million (+7.6% y/y) from 1.102 million. Single-family permits improved 2.1% to 636,000 (9.4% y/y) but multi-family permits declined 15.9% to 403,000 (+4.6% y/y).

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

The Fed's latest Beige Book covering regional economic conditions is available here.

Housing Starts (000s, SAAR) Mar Feb Jan Mar Y/Y % 2014 2013 2012
Total 926 908 1,072 -3.5 1,001 930 784
 Single-Family 618 592 698 -3.8 646 621 537
 Multi-Family 308 316 374 -2.7 355 309 247
Starts By Region
 Northeast 101 47 109 -19.8 110 97 80
 Midwest 126 96 144 -13.0 160 149 129
 South 498 516 527 3.1 496 467 400
 West 201 249 292 -3.4 236 217 175
Building Permits 1,039 1,102 1,060 7.6 1,033 990 829
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