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Economy in Brief

U.S. Housing Starts Fall Sharply in October
by Tom Moeller  November 17, 2022

• Decline in single-family starts again exceeds drop in multi-family sector.

• Regional changes are mixed.

• Building permits continue to trend downward.

Total housing starts fell 4.2% (-8.8% y/y) during October to 1.425 million (SAAR) from 1.488 million in September, revised from 1.439 million. Starts in August were revised to 1.508 million from 1.566 million. Starts in October were 21.1% lower last month than the April 2022 peak. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected 1.41 million starts in October.

Single-family starts weakened 6.1% (-20.8% y/y) in October to 855,000 after falling 1.3% to 911,000 in September. Single-family starts were 34.6% below their December 2020 peak. Multi-family starts declined 1.2% (+17.8% y/y) to 570,000 after falling 1.4% in September. They were 9.8% below the April 2022 peak.

Housing starts remained regionally mixed. In the Northeast, starts declined 34.7% (-15.8% y/y) to 96,000 after a 17.4% drop in September. October starts in the Midwest were off 11.1% (-13.6% y/y) to 185,000, after rising 13.7% in each of the prior two months. Starts in the West fell 10.6% last month (-19.6% y/y) to 336,000 following a 6.5% rise. Working 6.7% higher (-1.1% y/y) to 808,000 were starts in the South, recapturing a 4.7% September shortfall.

Building permits declined 2.4% (-10.1% y/y) during October to 1.526 million after rising 1.4% in September. Single-family permits weakened 3.6% (-22.1% y/y) to 839,000. It was the eighth straight consecutive monthly decline. Multi-family permits eased 1.0% (+10.6% y/y) to 687,000 after rising 8.1% in September.

The housing starts and permits figures can be found in Haver's USECON database. The expectations figure is contained in the AS1REPNA database.

The Economic Outlook and a Word of Caution on Inflation from Fed Governor Christopher J. Waller can be found here.

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