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Economy in Brief

U.S. Housing Starts Increase as Building Permits Strengthen
by Tom Moeller  December 17, 2019

New home building remained strong during November. Housing starts increased 3.2% (13.6% y/y) to 1.365 million (SAAR) from 1.323 million in October, revised from 1.314 million. The Action Economics Forecast Survey had expected 1.346 million starts for last month.

Multi-family starts increased 4.9% last month (7.3% y/y) to 427,000 following an 11.8% improvement during October. Single-family starts increased 2.4% in November (16.7% y/y) to 938,000 after October's rise of 1.6%.

Starts in the South rose 10.3% (13.4% y/y) to 752,000, the highest level since March 2007. In the West, starts improved 1.4% (22.7% y/y) to 351,000, the highest level since September of last year. Moving lower last month were starts in the Midwest where they fell 15.5% (+9.7% y/y) to 158,000. They've been trending sideways since 2016. Starts in the Northeast declined 3.7% (-4.6% y/y) to 104,000, the lowest level since July.

A 1.4% increase (11.1% y/y) in building permits to 1.482 million brought them to the highest level since May 2007. Permits to build multi-family homes increased 2.5% to 564,000 (14.9% y/y) while single-family permits rose 0.8% to 918,000 (8.9% y/y).

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) Nov Oct Sep Nov Y/Y % 2018 2017 2016
Total 1,365 1,323 1,266 13.6 1,250 1,209 1,178
  Single-Family 938 916 902 16.7 873 852 786
  Multi-Family 427 407 364 7.3 377 357 392
Starts By Region
  Northeast 104 108 114 -4.6 111 111 116
  Midwest 158 187 158 9.7 171 181 185
  South 752 682 687 13.4 631 603 585
  West 351 346 307 22.7 337 314 292
Building Permits 1,482 1,461 1,391 11.1 1,330 1,286 1,207
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