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Economy in Brief

U.S. Housing Starts Unexpectedly Edge Higher in March
by Tom Moeller  April 19, 2022

• Single-family starts ease while multi-family improves.

• Regional changes remain mixed.

• Building permits rise slightly.

Housing starts rose 0.3% (3.9% y/y) during March to 1.793 million from 1.788 million in February, revised from 1.769 million. It remained the highest level of starts since June 2006. January starts were revised to 1.679 million from 1.657 million. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 1.741 million starts during March.

Starts of single-family units fell 1.7% (-4.4% y/y) last month to 1.200 million after rising to 1.221 million in February. Multi-family housing starts improved 4.6% (26.2% y/y) to 593,000 from 567,000 in February.

By region, housing starts in the Northeast more-than-doubled m/m (77.6% y/y) in March to 293,000. Starts in the West increased 7.7% (13.9% y/y) to 434,000. In the South, housing starts declined 17.2% (-6.4% y/y) to 834,000 units. Starts in the Midwest eased 2.9% (-19.4% y/y) to 232,000 in March.

Building permits rose 0.4% (6.7% y/y) to 1.873 million from 1.865 million in February. Permits to build single-family homes declined 4.8% (-3.9% y/y) in March to 1.147 million units. Permits to build multi-family homes rose 10.0% (29.4% y/y) to 726,000.

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) Mar Feb Jan Mar Y/Y % 2021 2020 2019
Total 1,793 1,788 1,679 3.9 1,605 1,397 1,292
  Single-Family 1,200 1,221 1,167 -4.4 1,131 1,004 889
  Multi-Family 593 567 512 26.2 473 393 403
Starts By Region
  Northeast 293 139 105 77.6 138 113 115
  Midwest 232 239 198 -19.4 217 193 169
  South 834 1,007 924 -6.4 849 743 687
  West 434 403 452 13.9 401 347 321
Building Permits 1,873 1,865 1,895 6.7 1,714 1,479 1,385
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