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Economic Watch: Housing Starts Dive in August Following July Surge

September 18, 2014

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Housing starts in the U.S. plunged in August from the month before but the level of activity was still higher than the same time a year earlier, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.

The 14.4% decline from the month before follows a 22.9% gain in July, the highest level since November 2007, which was upwardly revised from its earlier reported 15.7% increase.

Compared to August 2013, last month’s performance is 8% higher. The number of single-family home starts declined 2.4% in August from July.

An indicator of future building activity, the number of new building permits issued, fell 5.6% in August from the month before, following a upwardly revised 8.6% increase in July from June, but were up 5.3% during August compared to the same time in 2013.

The number of building permits issued for single-family homes during August was 0.8% less than during July. Much of the overall decline for August was due to a 32% drop in the volatile segment of multi-family unit home starts.

“The August drop in multifamily starts is not too surprising, given how volatile the numbers have been the last 18 months,” said David Crowe, chief economist of the National Association of Home Builders. “And while single-family starts registered a slight decline, low mortgage rates, affordable home prices and pent-up demand will keep single-family production moving forward in 2014.”

Combined housing starts fell in all regions of the country. The Northeast, Midwest, South and West posted respective drops of 12.9%, 10.3%, 10.9% and 24.7%, respectively.

Regionally, the Northeast, Midwest, South and West registered respective overall permit losses of 11.6%, 12.4%, 0.6% and 8.3%

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