Privately-owned housing starts rose in August to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 750,000, a 2.3 percent increase from July and 29.1 percent increase from August 2011, according to the newest stats from the U.S. Census Bureau. In addition, single-family housing starts for August rose to a rate of 535,000, a strong increase a 5.5 percent from the 507,000 single-family starts in July.
Privately-Owned Housing Starts, Permits and Completions, Oh My!
In addition to its stats on privately-owned housing starts, the Census Bureau also reported on building permits and housing completions:
- For building permits, which anticipate future construction activity, there was a 1.0 percent increase from July to August with a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 803,000.
- That rate was also a 24.5 percent increase from August 2011, and single-family authorizations, which are for single-family residences, also increased in August, rising 0.2 percent from July to 512,000.
- Privately-owned housing completions were similarly positive; from July to August, completions were up by 0.7 percent, and from August 2011, they were up 11.7 percent.
- The rate for single-family housing completions was even stronger, increasing 5.4 percent from July to a rate of 489,000.
Perspectives on U.S. Housing Construction
Though the stats for privately-owned housing starts were less than what analysts had expected (there was a consensus for a rate of 768,000), it’s worth revisiting just how far the construction sector has traveled in the past three years:
- Since bottoming in January 2009, total housing starts are up by 57 percent.
- Similarly, single-family housing starts are up 51 percent from their low, which was also at the start of 2009.
- And as Bill McBride noted this morning on his influential blog Calculated Risk, even with August’s housing starts being below expectations, starts are still on pace to be up by 25 percent from 2011, and permits have also increased substantially from a year ago.
As we’ve noted again and again, a strong, sustainable housing construction sector is essential for a recovering housing market, and with each progressive report from the Census Bureau, it seems we’re inching that much closer to that scenario.