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Economy in Brief

U.S. Housing Starts Ease; Permits Jump Again
by Tom Moeller  June 16, 2015

Housing starts during May declined 11.1% to a 1.036 million annual rate (+4.6% y/y), following a revised 22.1% rise to 1.165 million units, last month reported as 1.135 mil. May's figure fell short of expectations for 1.095 million starts in the Action Economics Forecast Survey.

Permits to build housing units surged 24.9% to 1.275 million units (20.8% y/y). It came on the heels of a 9.8% April jump. The latest level of permits was the highest since August 2007, driven by a tripling in the Northeast since December. Single-family permits gained 2.6% (4.0% y/y) following a 3.7% rise. Multi-family permits rose 24.9% (50.6% y/y) after a 19.7% gain.

Single-family starts declined 5.4%% last month to 680,000 (+6.7% y/y) following a 15.4% increase. Starts to build multi-family homes fell 20.2% (+0.6% y/y) after a 34.7% April jump.

Housing starts declined m/m throughout the country. Activity in the Northeast retreated 26.5% to 139,000 (+55.4% y/y). New building fell 12.5% to 253,000 in the West (+30.2% y/y). Starts in the Midwest were off 10.2% to 149,000, down 9.6% y/y. In the South, new building eased 5.0% to 495,000 (-8.4% 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) May Apr Mar May Y/Y % 2014 2013 2012
Total 1,036 1,165 954 4.6 1,001 928 784
 Single-Family 680 719 623 6.7 647 620 537
 Multi-Family 356 446 331 0.6 354 308 247
Starts By Region
 Northeast 139 189 100 55.4 110 97 80
 Midwest 149 166 142 -9.6 159 149 129
 South 495 521 511 -8.4 497 467 400
 West 253 289 201 30.2 236 217 175
Building Permits 1,275 1,140 1,038 20.8 1,052 987 829
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