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Economy in Brief

U.S. Housing Starts Strengthen; Single-Family Near Ten-Year High
by Tom Moeller  March 16, 2017

Housing starts during February improved 3.0% to 1.288 million (AR) from 1.251 million in January, revised from 1.246 million. Expectations had been for 1.260 million starts in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. Starts of single-family units increased 6.3% to 872,000, the highest level since October 2007. Starts of multi-family homes declined 3.7% to 416,000, down for the third month in the last four.

By region, housing starts in the West jumped 35.7% (4.2% y/y) to 323,000, but have been range-bound since October. Elsewhere in the country starts declined. Starts in the South fell 3.8% (+7.7% y/y) to 659,000, but remained near the August 2007 high. Starts in the Midwest fell 4.6% (-11.4% y/y) to 187,000 following a 12.9% fall. In the Northeast, starts declined 9.8% (+48.8% y/y) to 119,000 and have trended sideways for twelve months.

Building permits declined 6.2% (+4.4% y/y) to 1.213 million from 1.293 million. Permits to build single-family homes increased 3.1% (13.5% y/y) to 832,000, nearly a ten-year high. Permits to build multi-family units fell 21.6% (-11.2% y/y) to 381,000.

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

Housing Starts (000s, SAAR) Feb Jan Dec Feb Y/Y % 2016 2015 2014
Total 1,288 1,251 1,275 3.6 1,176 1,108 1,001
 Single-Family 872 819 809 0.9 784 713 648
 Multi-Family  416 432 466 9.6 392 395 356
Starts By Region
 Northeast 119 132 90 48.8 116 136 109
 Midwest 187 196 225 -11.4 182 151 159
 South 659 685 568 7.7 584 556 497
 West 323 238 392 4.2 291 265 236
Building Permits 1,213 1,293 1,228 4.4 1,171 1,178 1,053
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