Thursday, January 22, 2009

Housing Starts at All Time Low

by Calculated Risk on 1/22/2009 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 550 thousand (SAAR) in December, by far the lowest level since the Census Bureau began tracking housing starts in 1959.

Single-family starts were at 398 thousand in December; also the lowest level ever recorded (since 1959). Single-family permits were at 363 thousand in November, suggesting single family starts may fall even further 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 December were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 549,000. This is 10.7 percent (±1.3%) below the revised November rate of 615,000 and is 50.6 percent (±1.6%) below the revised December 2007 estimate of 1,111,000.

Single-family authorizations in December were at a rate of 363,000; this is 12.3 percent (±1.5%) below the November figure of 414,000. Authorizations of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 170,000 in December.
On housing starts:
Privately-owned housing starts in December were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 550,000. This is 15.5 percent (±9.3%) below the revised November estimate of 651,000 and is 45.0 percent (±6.1%) below the revised December 2007 rate of 1,000,000.

Single-family housing starts in December were at a rate of 398,000; this is 13.5 percent (±11.2%) below the November figure of 460,000. The December rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 145,000.
And on completions:
Privately-owned housing completions in December were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,015,000. This is 5.2 percent (±11.9%)* below the revised November estimate of 1,071,000 and is 23.6 percent (±9.2%) below the revised December 2007 rate of 1,329,000.

Single-family housing completions in December were at a rate of 668,000; this is 13.1 percent (±12.5%) below the November figure of 769,000. The December rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 330,000.
Once again, note that single-family completions are significantly higher than single-family starts. This is important because residential construction employment tends to follow completions, and completions will probably continue to decline.

Another extremely weak report ...