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Economy in Brief

U.S. Housing Starts Improve Sharply in November
by Tom Moeller  December 16, 2021

• Both single- and multi-family starts increase.

• Regional changes are mostly positive.

• Building permits strengthen.

Housing starts rose 11.8% (8.3% y/y) during November to 1.679 million units (SAAR) from 1.502 million in October, revised from 1.520 million. It was the highest level of housing starts since March. A November level of 1.570 million starts had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey.

The rise in starts overall in November reflected an 11.3% gain (-0.8% y/y) in single-family starts to 1.173 million. The increase was to the highest level since March and followed four consecutive months of decline. Starts of multi-family homes improved 12.9% (37.1% y/y) to 506,000, the highest level since February 2020.

Building permits increased 3.6% (0.9% y/y) to 1.712 million from 1.653 million in October, revised from 1.650 million. It was the highest level of permits in three months. Permits to build single-family homes gained 2.7% (-4.5% y/y) to 1.103 million. Permits to build multi-family homes rose 5.2% (12.6% y/y) in November to 609,000.

By region, housing starts rose 27.5% in the Northeast (-9.1% y/y) in November to 130,000. Starts in the South improved 18.4% (15.8% y/y) to 933,000. Starts in the West increased 5.1% (-0.2% y/y) to 412,000. Partially offsetting these gains was a 7.3% decline (7.9% y/y) in starts in the Midwest to 204,000.

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 % 2020 2019 2018
Total 1,679 1,502 1,550 8.3 1,397 1,292 1,247
  Single-Family 1,173 1,054 1,089 -0.8 1,004 889 871
  Multi-Family 506 448 461 37.1 393 403 376
Starts By Region
  Northeast 130 102 127 -9.1 113 115 111
  Midwest 204 220 203 7.9 193 169 170
  South 933 788 804 15.8 743 687 630
  West 412 392 416 -0.2 347 321 336
Building Permits 1,712 1,653 1,586 0.9 1,479 1,385 1,329
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