Published On: Sun, Mar 18th, 2018

New Residential Housing Starts Down In February

The U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of and Urban Development have now published their findings for new . The latest reading of 1.236M was below the Investing.com forecast of 1.290M and a decrease from the previous month’s revised 1.329M.

Here is the opening of this morning’s monthly report:

Housing

Privately-owned housing starts in February were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,236,000. This is 7.0 percent (±16.7 percent)* below the revised January estimate of 1,329,000 and is 4.0 percent (±12.2 percent)* below the February 2017 rate of 1,288,000. Single-family housing starts in February were at a rate of 902,000; this is 2.9 percent (±10.8 percent)* above the revised January figure of 877,000. The February rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 317,000. [link to report]

Here is the historical series for total privately-owned housing starts, which dates from 1959. Because of the extreme volatility of the monthly data points, a 6-month moving average has been included.

Housing Starts

Housing Starts

The Population-Adjusted Reality

Here is the data with a simple population adjustment. The Census Bureau’s mid-month population estimates show substantial growth in the US population since 1959. Here is a chart of housing starts as a percent of the population. We’ve added a linear regression through the monthly data to highlight the trend.

Housing Starts Population-Adjusted

Housing Starts Population-Adjusted

A Footnote on Volatility

The extreme volatility of this monthly indicator is the rationale for paying more attention to its 6-month moving average than to its noisy monthly change. Over the complete data series, the absolute MoM average percent change is 6.3%. The MoM range minimum is -26.4% and the maximum is 29.3%.

For visual confirmation of the volatility, here is a snapshot of the monthly percent change since 1990.

Starts Monthly Percent Change

Starts Monthly Percent Change

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