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Economy in Brief

U.S. Housing Starts Decline Again
by Tom Moeller  May 16, 2017

Housing starts remain soft. During April, total starts declined 2.6% to 1.172 million units (AR) from 1.203 million in March, revised from 1.215 million. It was the lowest level of starts since November. Expectations had been for 1.250 million starts in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. The overall decline reflected a 9.2% drop in multi-family starts to 337,000 (-15.1% y/y) following three consecutive months of sharp decline. Over the four months, multi-family starts are down 26.7%. Starts of single-family units improved 0.4% to 835,000 after a 5.1% decline during March.

By region, housing starts in the Northeast declined 37.3% (-34.2% y/y) to 79,000 units, the lowest point since February 2015. In the South, starts dropped 9.1% (-1.5% y/y) to 592,000 following two months of moderate decline. Activity in the other regions of the country improved. Starts in the West increased 5.4% (23.4% y/y) to 295,000. Starts in the Midwest jumped 41.1% (1.0% y/y) to 206,000, the highest level since December.

Building permits slipped 2.5% (+5.7% y/y) to 1.229 million units, the second decline in three months. Permits to build single-family homes fell 4.5% to 789,000 (+6.2% y/y), the third decline in four months. Permits to build multi-family units increased 1.4% (4.8% y/y) to 440,000, the highest level in three months.

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

Do Credit Markets Watch the Waving Flag of Bankruptcy? from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York can be found here.

`Housing Starts (000s, SAAR) Apr Mar Feb Apr Y/Y % 2016 2015 2014
Total 1,172 1,203 1,288 0.7 1,17 1,107 1,001
 Single-Family 835 832 877 8.9 784 712 647
 Multi-Family  337 371 411 -15.1 393 395 355
Starts By Region
 Northeast 79 126 111 -34.2 116 136 109
 Midwest 206 146 182 1.0 185 150 159
 South 592 651 658 -1.5 584 556 497
 West 295 280 337 23.4 292 265 236
Building Permits 1,229 1,260 1,219 5.7 1,207 1,178 1,053
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