housing starts

The Bloomberg Spin on Housing Starts

Bloomberg is consistently spinning economic indicators. Today's headline, U.S. Economy: Single-Family Home Starts Rise for Fifth Month.

Thank God for the Internets, because these days, you can check the Press releases for yourself.

Single-family housing starts in July were at a rate of 490,000; this is 1.7 percent (±7.1%)* above the revised June figure of 482,000. The July rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 80,000.

Ok, firstly 1.7% isn't that much but the biggest thing here is the margin of error, 7.1%! And that asterisk?

* 90% confidence interval includes zero. The Census Bureau does not have sufficient statistical evidence to conclude that the actual change is different from zero.

Housing starts resume march to 0

Last month housing starts unexpectedly rose from 477,000 (annualized) in January to 583,000. This morning March's data came in at 503,000 annualized.

Last month we were told not to get to excited by "one month's data." We can contain our enthusiasm now. The trendline to 0, apparent in the chart below (not updated with today's data) has resumed:

Decline in Housing Starts worst since Great Depression

This morning the Census Bureau reported housing starts at an annual rate of 464,000 for January 2009. At a nearly 80% decline from the high of 2,273,000 starts of January 2006, the collapse in housing starts is now not just the worst since the modern data series was started in 1959, it is also worse than the 75% decline during World War 2. The only worse decline is the 90% decline between 1927-1935.