U.S. Single-Family Housing Starts Rise to Highest in a DecadeBy
Groundbreaking on single-family homes proceeded in November at the strongest pace in a decade, driving U.S. housing starts to a faster-than-estimated rate, government figures showed Tuesday.
Highlights of Housing Starts (November)
The latest results make it more likely that residential construction spending -- which subtracted from economic growth in the second and third quarters -- will add to the pace of U.S. expansion in the October-December period, which is already shaping up as a solid quarter.
The November gains are encouraging because they’re driven by single-family home building, which tends to spur economic activity and jobs in a bigger way than apartment construction. Single-family permits have increased for three straight months, also indicating a sustained pipeline of work for developers.
The figures reflect a boost from rebuilding and recovery efforts following hurricanes Harvey and Irma, as areas in the South had faced the brunt of the damage from flooding and winds.
A separate report on Monday showed homebuilders’ confidence jumped in December to the highest level since July 1999, indicating developers expect demand to advance amid steady economic growth, a tightening job market and still-low mortgage costs. At the same time, further gains in homebuilding may run up against hurdles including a shortage of workers, rising costs for materials and a scarcity of ready-to-build lots.
- Groundbreaking on multi-family homes, such as apartment buildings and condominiums, fell 1.6 percent to an annual rate of 367,000; data on these projects can be volatile
- Housing starts plunged 40 percent in Northeast to 87,000, biggest drop in a year; down 13 percent in Midwest
- Report shows wide margin of error, with a 90 percent chance that the November figure on housing starts was between a 5.8 percent drop and 12.4 percent gain
- Housing units authorized but not yet started reached 155,000, the most since June 2008; homes under construction increased to 1.11 million, most since August 2007
- Report released jointly by the Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development in Washington
— With assistance by Chris Middleton