This is a surprise. Housing Starts jumped +10.5% in August 2010. Last month housing starts were revised to a -0.4% flatline from June. The change was all due to apartments, which increased 42.7% from last month.
Privately-owned housing starts in August were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 598,000. This is 10.5 percent (±11.9%)* above the revised July estimate of 541,000 and is 2.2 percent (±9.7%)* above the August 2009 rate of 585,000.
Single-family housing starts in August were at a rate of 438,000; this is 4.3 percent (±12.4%)* above the revised July figure of 420,000. The August rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 147,000.
Regionally, the new construction was happening in the West, with all regions having much higher 5 or more unit housing starts than single family. Here is a percentage breakdown of the nation's regions housing start totals:
- West: 34.3%
- South: 7.0%
- Midwest: 21.7%
- Northeast: -24.3%
The below St. Louis Fred graph is the monthly percentage change in single units for new housing starts. Most of the gains were in apartments, with single family having a 4.3% gain. Gotta house all of the people foreclosed on I guess.
Building permits rose +1.8% but single family new building permits declined -1.2%. Below is a graph of building permits, or new authorizations to construct, starting from 1960. Think about the overall population growth since 1960...
Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in August were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 569,000. This is 1.8 percent (±2.0%)* above the revised July rate of 559,000, but is 6.7 percent (±1.4%) below the August 2009 estimate of 610,000.
Single-family authorizations in August were at a rate of 401,000; this is 1.2 percent (±1.0%) below the revised July figure of 406,000. Authorizations of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 150,000 in August.
The below St. Louis Fed graph is just single family building permits, from January 2005.
Housing completions increased as well, an overall increase of +5.6% while single family rose +1.3%.
The government report is here. There is a lot of statistical noise, or variance, margin of error, in housing starts and permits, which is outlined in the report. Also, new apartment construction is particularly volatile as a statistic. Below is a graph of the percentage change in apartment construction. As one can see, from month to month the percentage change is massive, so one cannot rely on one month's of data to determine a trend.