The U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development have now published their findings for March new residential housing starts. The latest reading of 1.319M was above the Investing.com forecast of 1.290M and an increase from the previous month’s revised 1.295M. Seasonally adjusted figures were revised going back to January 2012.
Here is the opening of this morning’s monthly report:
Privately-owned housing starts in March were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,319,000. This is 1.9 percent (±12.4 percent)* above the revised February estimate of 1,295,000 and is 10.9 percent (±10.0 percent) above the March 2017 rate of 1,189,000. Single-family housing starts in March were at a rate of 867,000; this is 3.7 percent (±11.8 percent)* below the revised February figure of 900,000. The March rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 439,000. [link to report]
Here is the historical series for total privately-owned housing starts, which dates from 1959. Because of the extreme volatility of the monthly data points, a 6-month moving average has been included.
The Population-Adjusted Reality
Here is the data with a simple population adjustment. The Census Bureau’s mid-month population estimates show substantial growth in the US population since 1959. Here is a chart of housing starts as a percent of the population. We’ve added a linear regression through the monthly data to highlight the trend.
A Footnote on Volatility
The extreme volatility of this monthly indicator is the rationale for paying more attention to its 6-month moving average than to its noisy monthly change. Over the complete data series, the absolute MoM average percent change is 6.3%. The MoM range minimum is -26.4% and the maximum is 29.3%.
For visual confirmation of the volatility, here is a snapshot of the monthly percent change since 1990.