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Economy in Brief

U.S. Housing Starts Decline
by Tom Moeller  October 17, 2018

Total housing starts fell 5.3% during September to 1.201 million units (AR) from 1.268 million in August, revised from 1.282 million. The decline compared to an estimate of 1.228 million starts in the Action Economics Forecast Survey.

Last month's shortfall reflected a 13.7% drop in the South to 567,000 units from 657,000, as Hurricane Florence made landfall. Nevertheless, starts remained 4.4% higher than twelve months earlier. In the Midwest, housing starts also were weak and posted a 14.0% decline to 160,000 units (-14.0% y/y) from 186,000. In the Northeast, housing starts improved 29.0% (18.8% y/y) to 120,000 units, the highest level in six months. Housing starts in the West increased 6.6% (7.9% y/y) to 354,000, also the highest level in six months.

Starts of single-family homes eased 0.9% (+4.8% y/y) last month to 871,000 units following a 2.1% rise to 879,000. Starts of multi-family units declined 15.2% (+0.9% y/y) to 330,000 and reversed most of their rise during August.

Building permits slipped 0.6% (-1.0% y/y) to 1.241 million, the lowest level since May 2017, from 1.249 million, revised from 1.229 million. Single-family permits increased 2.9% (2.4% y/y) to 851,000. Permits to build multi-family homes declined 7.6% (-7.8% y/y) to 390,000, 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.

The minutes to the latest FOMC meeting can be found here.

Housing Starts (000s, SAAR) Sep Aug Jul Sep Y/Y % 2017 2016 2015
Total 1,201 1,268 1,184 3.7 1,208 1,177 1,107
 Single-Family 871 879 861 4.8 852 785 713
 Multi-Family  330 389 323 0.9 356 393 394
Starts By Region
 Northeast 120 93 103 18.8 111 116 135
 Midwest 160 186 178 -14.0 180 185 150
 South 567 657 624 4.4 603 585 557
 West 354 332 279 7.9 314 292 265
Building Permits 1,241 1,249 1,303 -1.0 1,286 1,206 1,178
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