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Economy in Brief

U.S. Housing Starts Backpedal in July
by Tom Moeller  August 18, 2021

• Both single-family and multi-family starts fall.

• Decline spreads throughout most of country.

• Building permits improve.

Housing starts declined 7.0% (+2.5% y/y) during July to 1.534 million units (SAAR) from 1.650 million units in June, revised from 1.643 million. Starts in May were revised to 1.594 million from 1.546 million. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 1.600 million starts.

Starts of single-family homes fell 4.5% (+11.7% y/y) in July to 1.111 million from 1.163 million in June, revised from 1.160 million. Starts of multi-family units weakened 13.1% (-15.7% y/y) in July to 423,000 from 487,000 in June, revised from 483,000.

Building permits improved 2.6% (6.0% y/y) last month to 1.635 million from 1.594 million in June, revised from 1.598 million. Permits to build single-family homes weakened 1.7% (+5.5% y/y) to 1.048 million after three straight months of decline. Permits to build multi-family homes rose 11.2% (6.9% y/y) to 587,000 after falling for two months.

By region, housing starts in the Northeast fell 49.3% (-44.7% y/y) in July to 73,000 after a 3.6% gain in June. In the Midwest, starts declined 6.9% (-10.5% y/y) last month to 188,000 after falling 23.2% in June. Housing starts in the South improved 2.1% (5.2% y/y) during July to 889,000 following a 7.5% rise in June. In the West, starts fell 11.3% (+23.9% y/y) to 384,000 and reversed June's gain.

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 % 2020 2019 2018
Total 1.534 1,650 1,594 2.5 1,397 1,292 1,247
  Single-Family 1,111 1,163 1,098 11.7 1,004 889 871
  Multi-Family 423 487 496 -15.7 393 403 376
Starts By Region
  Northeast 73 144 139 -44.7 113 115 111
  Midwest 188 202 263 -10.5 193 169 170
  South 889 871 810 5.2 743 687 630
  West 384 433 382 23.9 347 321 336
Building Permits 1,635 1,594 1,683 6.0 1,479 1,385 1,329
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