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Economy in Brief

U.S. Housing Starts Post Firm Gain but Building Permits Ease
by Tom Moeller  October 20, 2015

Housing starts during September increased 6.0% to 1.206 million (AR) from 1.132 million in August, last month reported as 1.126 million. During all of the third quarter, starts inched 0.5% higher versus Q2. The latest figure surpassed expectations for 1.131 million starts in the Action Economics Forecast Survey.

Last month's increase in starts was paced by an 18.3% gain (28.7% y/y) in multi-family units. Strength in multi-family starts has been notable in the Northeast (50.9% y/y), the West (42.1% y/y) and the South (38.6% y/y). Multi-family starts in the Midwest were off 47.2% y/y during September. Starts of single-family units nudged just 0.3% higher but remained up 11.1% y/y. Here again, activity in the Midwest was weak as single-family starts fell 4.4% y/y. That compared to a 20.5% y/y rise in the West, a 14.7% gain in the South and a 4.2% rise in the Northeast.

Permits to build housing units retreated 5.0% (+4.4% y/y) to 1.103 million. They were down 17.5% from a June peak. Weakness was notable in the multi-family sector where permits fell 12.1% (+1.1% y/y). Declines occurred throughout most of the country. Single-family permits also eased 0.3% (+6.6% y/y), reflecting shortfalls in the Northeast and West.

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) Sep Aug Jul Sep Y/Y % 2014 2013 2012
Total 1,206 1,132 1,152 17.8 1,001 928 784
 Single-Family 740 738 759 11.1 647 620 537
 Multi-Family 466 394 393 28.7 354 308 247
Starts By Region
 Northeast 137 111 160 28.7 110 97 80
 Midwest 137 156 171 -18.0 159 149 129
 South 621 617 556 23.0 497 467 400
 West 311 248 265 30.0 236 217 175
Building Permits 1,103 1,161 1,130 4.4 1,052 987 829
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