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Economy in Brief

U.S. Housing Starts Decline But Permits Gain
by Tom Moeller  September 17, 2015

Housing starts during August eased 3.0% to 1.126 million (AR) from 1.161 million in July, last month reported as 1.206 million. So far this quarter, starts are 1.3% below the Q2 average. The latest figure fell short of expectations for 1.16 million starts in the Action Economics Forecast Survey.

Single-family starts declined 3.0% to 739,000 from 762,000. Multi-family starts also fell 3.0% to 387,000, the lowest level in three months.

Housing starts were mixed m/m throughout the country. Activity in the Northeast fell by one-third to 108,000. In the Midwest, starts declined 9.8% to 157,000. Starts in the West eased 1.1% to 259,000 but in the South starts gained 7.1% to 602,000.

Permits to build housing units rebounded 3.5% to 1.170 million units (+8.9% y/y). They remained, however, at the lowest level since April. Multi-family permits increased 4.7% to 471,000 (9.1% y/y) and single-family permits improved 2.8% to 699,000 (8.7% y/y).

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

Why Has Household Debt Declined? from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis is available here.

Housing Starts (000s, SAAR) Aug Jul Jun Aug Y/Y % 2014 2013 2012
Total 1,126 1,161 1,211 15.9 1,001 928 784
 Single-Family 739 762 687 15.3 647 620 537
 Multi-Family 387 399 524 17.0 354 308 247
Starts By Region
 Northeast 108 163 223 1.0 110 97 80
 Midwest 157 174 147 -11.4 159 149 129
 South 602 562 552 27.2 497 467 400
 West 259 262 289 23.4 236 217 175
Building Permits 1,170 1,130 1,337 8.9 1,052 987 829
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