Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Housing Starts plummet in May

by Bill McBride on 6/16/2010 08:30:00 AM

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

Total housing starts were at 593 thousand (SAAR) in May, down 10% from the revised April rate of 659,000 (revised down from 672 thousand), and up 24% from the all time record low in April 2009 of 477 thousand (the lowest level since the Census Bureau began tracking housing starts in 1959).

Single-family starts collapsed 17.2% to 468,000 in May. This is 30% above the record low in January 2009 (360 thousand).

Total Housing Starts and Single Family Housing StartsThe second graph shows total and single unit starts since 1968. This shows the huge collapse following the housing bubble, and that housing starts have mostly been moving sideways for over a year.

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

Housing Starts:
Privately-owned housing starts in May were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 593,000. This is 10.0 percent (±10.3%)* below the revised April estimate of 659,000, but is 7.8 percent (±9.7%)* above the May 2009 rate of 550,000.

Single-family housing starts in May were at a rate of 468,000; this is 17.2 percent (±7.9%) below the revised April figure of 565,000.

Building Permits:
Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in May were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 574,000. This is 5.9 percent (±2.2%) below the revised April rate of 610,000, but is 4.4 percent (±2.6%) above the May 2009 estimate of 550,000.

Single-family authorizations in May were at a rate of 438,000; this is 9.9 percent (±2.1%) below the revised April figure of 486,000. Authorizations of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 117,000 in May.
Note that permits fell sharply, suggesting another significant decline in housing starts next month. This is way below expectations (I took the under!), and is good news for the housing market longer term (there are too many housing units already), but bad news for the economy and employment short term.

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