Recent Updates

  • China: Industrial Profit (Aug)
  • US: Advance Durable Goods (Aug)
  • Italy: Business & Consumer Surveys (Sep), Contractual Wages (Aug), Large Firms Employment, Earnings & Hours Worked (Jul)
  • Luxembourg: International Trade (Jul)
  • more updates...

Economy in Brief

U.S. Housing Starts Surge Unexpectedly in July; Building Permits Strengthen
by Tom Moeller  August 18, 2020

• Housing activity continues to recover following coronavirus shutdown.

• Building permits hit six-month high.

Improved activity in the housing sector continues to lead the economy out of recession. Housing starts strengthened 22.6% during July (23.4% y/y) to 1.496 million (SAAR) from 1.220 million during June, revised from 1.186 million. Despite these gains, total starts remain 7.5% below their January peak of 1.617 million. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 1.230 million starts in July.

Starts of single-family homes rose 8.2% last month (7.4% y/y) to 940,000 after surging 19.4% in June to 869,000, revised from 831,000. Multi-family starts strengthened 58.4% (65.0% y/y) to 556,000 in July from 351,000 in June, revised from 355,000.

Building permits improved 18.8% in July (9.4% y/y) to 1.495 million from 1.258 million during June, revised from 1.241 million. Permits to build single-family homes increased 17.0% (15.5% y/y) to 983,000 after improving 12.6% in June. Permits to build multi-family homes increased 22.5% (-0.6% y/y) to the highest level since January.

By region, last month's improvement in housing starts reflected a roughly one-third increase (63.5% y/y) in the Northeast to 157,000. The latest level was triple the April low. In the South, starts also rose by one-third both m/m and y/y to 830,000, the highest level since February. In the Midwest, housing starts rose 5.8% (15.5% y/y) to 201,000 after three months of firm gain. Starts in the West improved 5.8% (-3.1% y/y) to 308,000 but failed to recover June's decline.

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) Jul Jun May Jul Y/Y % 2019 2018 2017
Total 1,496 1,220 1,038 23.4 1,295 1,248 1,207
  Single-Family 940 869 728 7.4 893 872 851
  Multi-Family 556 351 310 65.0 403 376 356
Starts By Region
  Northeast 157 116 69 63.5 115 111 112
  Midwest 201 190 142 15.5 170 170 180
  South 830 623 513 33.0 689 630 602
  West 308 291 314 -3.1 322 337 314
Building Permits 1,495 1,258 1,216 9.4 1,386 1,329 1,285
close
large image