us housing starts

Photo: James Bombales

US home builders remained cautious in March with the Department of Commerce reporting privately-owned housing starts for the month coming to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 926,000, a 2 percent increase over February’s revised estimate of 908,000. However, the March tally was a 2.5 percent drop below the same time the year before.

Regionally, housing starts in the Northeast rose 114.9 percent month-to-month, the surge likely due to the low winter numbers experienced in spectacularly stormy February. Starts were also up 31.3 percent between February and March in the Midwest, though they faltered in the South and West, declining at rates of 3.5 percent and 19.3 respectively.

However, compared to the same time last year, starts declined in most regions. In March, housing starts in the Northeast were down by 18.5 percent, the largest decrease among the different regions. It was followed by the Midwest, which experienced a 17.8 percent decline, while the West saw the seasonally adjusted rate of housing starts dip 2 percent. The South was the only part of the country to measure a year-over-year increase at 4.2 percent.

But what about the future? Building permits for housing units in March were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,039,000. The tally is a 5.7 percent drop from the revised February rate of 1,102,000. However, permits did see a modest 2.9 percent increase above March 2014 estimates.

Regionally, permits rose 39.8 percent month-to-month in the Northeast, but declined 3.7 percent from March 2014. The Midwest saw declines over both periods: housing permits fell 4.4 percent from February and 5.6 percent from the same time the year before. The South saw a monthly dip of 14.2 percent, but a 4 percent boost, year-over-year. It was a similar story for the West, where permits were down 2 percent month-to-month but surged over March 2014 levels with a 13.2 percent boost.

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