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Economy in Brief

U.S. Housing Starts and Permits Jump to 2007 Highs
by Tom Moeller  May 19, 2015

New home construction is emerging from its winter doldrums. Housing starts during April increased 20.2% to a 1.135 million annual rate (9.2% y/y), the highest point since November 2007. The gain followed an upwardly revised rise to 944,000 units, last month reported as 926,000. Last month's improvement surpassed expectations for 1.020 million starts in the Action Economics Forecast Survey.

Single-family starts rose 16.7% to 733,000 (13.8% y/y) following a 4.7% increase. Starts to build multi-family homes rose 27.2% to 402,000 (0.9% y/y) after a 5.3% March gain.

Starts rose m/m throughout most of the country. Activity in the Northeast surged 85.9% to 184,000 (50.0% y/y). Severe winter weather dropped them to 25% of February's level. New building rose 39.0% to 278,000 in the West (15.6% y/y). Starts in the Midwest gained 27.8% to 170,000 but they remained down 7.4% y/y. In the South, new building eased 1.8% to 503,000 (+2.5% y/y).

Permits to build housing units increased 10.1% to 1.143 million units (6.0% y/y) following declines in four of the previous five months. The latest level was the highest since December 2007. Single-family permits gained 3.7% (7.0% y/y) following a 2.8% rise. Multi-family permits rose 20.5% (4.3% y/y), rebounding after a 16.1% drop.

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

The Puzzle of Weak First-Quarter GDP Growth from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco can be found here.

Housing Starts (000s, SAAR) Apr Mar Feb Apr Y/Y % 2014 2013 2012
Total 1,135 944 900 9.2 1,001 928 784
 Single-Family 733 628 600 13.8 647 620 537
 Multi-Family 402 316 300 0.9 354 308 247
Starts By Region
 Northeast 184 99 46 50.0 110 97 80
 Midwest 170 133 102 -7.4 160 149 129
 South 503 512 509 2.5 496 467 400
 West 278 200 243 15.6 236 217 175
Building Permits 1,143 1,038 1,098 6.0 1,052 987 829
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