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Economy in Brief

U.S. Housing Starts Strengthen in June; Building Permits Rise
by Tom Moeller  July 17, 2020

• Home building continues to recover from coronavirus shutdown.

• Building permits increase modestly.

Low mortgage rates are bolstering new home building activity. Residential housing starts strengthened 17.3% last month (-4.0% y/y) to 1.186 million (SAAR) from 1.011 million in May, revised from 974,000. Despite these gains, total starts remain 26.7% below their January peak. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 1.174 million starts in June.

Starts of single-family homes rose 17.2% last month (-3.9% y/y) to 831,000 after the 4.4% May improvement to 709,000, revised from 675,000. Multi-family starts increased 17.5% (-4.1% y/y) to 355,000 from 302,000 in May, revised from 299,000.

A 2.1% increase (-2.5% y/y) in building permits to 1.241 million units followed a little-revised 14.1% May improvement. Permits to build single-family homes increased 11.8% (-1.1% y/y) to 834,000 after improving 12.0% in May. Permits to build multi-family homes fell 13.4% (-5.3% y/y) and reversed most of May's increase.

By region, last month's improvement in housing starts reflected a 114.3% increase (-5.4% y/y) in the Northeast to 105,000. It followed declines in each of the prior four months and starts remained 51.6% below January. In the Midwest, housing starts rose 29.3% (-0.5% y/y) to 181,000 after rising 3.7% in May. In the South, starts increased 20.2% (-4.6% y/y) to 606,000 after three months of sharp decline. Starts in the West fell 7.5% to 294,000 after a 76.7% May strengthening.

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

Rising to the Challenge: Central Banking, Financial Markets, and the Pandemic from John C. Williams, President & CEO, Federal Reserve Bank of New York can be found here.

Housing Starts (000s, SAAR) Jun May Apr Jun Y/Y % 2019 2018 2017
Total 1,186 1,011 934 -4.0 1,295 1,248 1,207
  Single-Family 831 709 679 -3.9 893 872 851
  Multi-Family 355 302 255 -4.1 403 376 356
Starts By Region
  Northeast 105 49 50 -5.4 115 111 112
  Midwest 181 140 135 -0.5 170 170 180
  South 606 504 569 -4.6 689 630 602
  West 294 318 180 -4.2 322 337 314
Building Permits 1,241 1,216 1,066 -2.5 1,386 1,329 1,285
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