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Economy in Brief

U.S. Housing Starts Decline in January
by Tom Moeller  February 17, 2022

• Severe winter weather limited building activity.

• Regional changes remain mixed.

• Building permits are little changed.

Housing starts declined 4.1% (+0.8% y/y) during January to 1.638 million (SAAR) from 1.708 million in December, revised from 1.702 million. It was the lowest level of starts in three months. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 1.700 million starts during January. Data for 2021 were revised.

Starts of single-family units declined 5.6% (-2.4% y/y) in January to 1.116 million from 1.182 million in December. It also was the lowest level since October. Multi-family housing starts eased 0.8% (+8.3% y/y) to 522,000 from 526,000. The latest level remained near the highest since February 2020.

By region, housing starts in the Northeast rose 2.6% (-41.2% y/y) in January to 120,000. Starts in the Midwest fell 37.7% (-4.3% y/y) to 200,000. In the South, housing starts eased 2.0% (+8.5% y/y) to 880,000. Starts in the West increased 17.7% (9.2% y/y) to a near record 438,000.

Building permits edged 0.7% higher (0.8% y/y) to 1.899 million from 1.885 million in December. It was the highest level of permits since May 2006. Permits to build single-family homes gained 6.8% (-5.0% y/y) in January to 1.205 million units. Permits to build multi-family homes fell 8.3% (+12.8% y/y) to 694,000.

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) Jan Dec Nov Jan Y/Y % 2021 2020 2019
Total 1,638 1,708 1,703 0.8 1,601 1,397 1,292
  Single-Family 1,116 1,182 1,222 -2.4 1,130 1,004 889
  Multi-Family 522 526 481 8.3 471 393 403
Starts By Region
  Northeast 120 117 113 -41.2 136 113 115
  Midwest 200 321 216 -4.3 217 193 169
  South 880 898 945 8.5 848 743 687
  West 438 372 429 9.2 400 347 321
Building Permits 1,899 1,885 1,717 0.8 1,714 1,479 1,385
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