Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Housing Starts at Another Record Low

by Bill McBride on 2/18/2009 08:32:00 AM

Total Housing Starts and Single Family Housing Starts Click on graph for larger image in new window.

Total housing starts were at 464 thousand (SAAR) in January, by far the lowest level since the Census Bureau began tracking housing starts in 1959.

Single-family starts were at 347 thousand in January; also the lowest level ever recorded (since 1959).

Single-family permits were at 335 thousand in January, suggesting single family starts may fall further next month - although total permits were greater than starts, suggesting total starts might increase next month.

Here is the Census Bureau report on housing Permits, Starts and Completions.

Building permits decreased:

Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in January were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 521,000. This is 4.8 percent (±3.5%) below the revised December rate of 547,000 and is 50.5 percent (±2.2%) below the revised January 2008 estimate of 1,052,000.

Single-family authorizations in January were at a rate of 335,000; this is 8.0 percent (±1.8%) below the December figure of 364,000.
On housing starts:
Privately-owned housing starts in January were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 466,000. This is 16.8 percent (±11.0%) below the revised December estimate of 560,000 and is 56.2 percent (±4.4%) below the revised January2008 rate of 1,064,000.

Single-family housing starts in January were at a rate of 347,000; this is 12.2 percent (±13.0%)* below the December figure of 395,000.
And on completions:
Privately-owned housing completions in January were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 776,000. This is 24.2 percent (±5.9%) below the revised December estimate of 1,024,000 and is 41.7 percent (±6.9%) below the revised January 2008 rate of 1,331,000.

Single-family housing completions in January were at a rate of 566,000; this is 17.5 percent (±7.2%) below the December figure of 686,000.
Note that single-family completions are still significantly higher than single-family starts. This is important because residential construction employment tends to follow completions, and completions will probably decline further.

Another extremely weak report ...