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Economy in Brief

U.S. Housing Starts Rebound After Two Months of Decline
by Tom Moeller  September 19, 2018

New home building activity improved last month. Total housing starts rose 9.2% during August (9.4% y/y) to 1.282 million (AR) from 1.174 million in July, revised from 1.168 million. That followed an 11.4% June decline to 1.177 million, revised from 1.158 million. A rise to 1.240 million starts had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey.

Starts of single-family homes increased 1.9% (-0.2% y/y) last month to 876,000 units following a 1.1% July rise to 860,000. Starts of multi-family units surged 29.3% (38.1% y/y) to 406,000, the highest level since March.

The rise in starts last month was led by a 19.1% increase (2.9% y/y) in the West to 318,000, following sharp declines in three of the prior four months. Housing starts in the Midwest also firmed as they improved 9.1% (12.4% y/y) to 191,000 after a 6.7% rise. In the South, housing starts increased 6.5% (15.0% y/y) to 674,000, the highest level since January. Starts in the Northeast held steady (-7.5% y/y) at 99,000, following declines in four of the prior five months.

Building permits declined 5.7% last month (-5.5% y/y) to 1.229 million units following a 0.9% July rise. It was the lowest level of permits since May 2017. Single-family permits were off 6.1% (+2.1% y/y) to 820,000, the lowest level in twelve months. Permits to build multi-family homes dropped 4.9% (-17.7% y/y) to 409,000, the lowest level since March 2016.

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) Aug Jul Jun Aug Y/Y % 2017 2016 2015
Total 1,282 1,174 1,177 9.4 1,208 1,177 1,107
 Single-Family 876 860 851 -0.2 852 785 713
 Multi-Family  406 314 326 38.1 356 393 394
Starts By Region
 Northeast 99 99 104 -7.5 111 116 135
 Midwest 191 175 164 12.4 180 185 150
 South 674 633 564 15.0 603 585 557
 West 318 267 345 2.9 314 292 265
Building Permits 1,229 1,303 1,292 -5.5 1,286 1,206 1,178
 
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