YOY building permits also fell 2.7%, while housing completions rose 3.8% from August 2022
WASHINGTON — August housing starts and building permits fell again compared to activity in the residential building sector last year, while the number of units completed rose, according to figures released by the U.S. Department of Commerce this week.
Housing starts totaled 1.28 million, down 14.8% from the 1.5 million reported in August 2022, and down 11.3% from the revised July rate of 1.45 million. Meanwhile, the number of building permits issued totaled 1.54 million, 2.7% below the 1.58 million reported in August 2022, but 6.9% above the revised July rate of 1.44 million.
Single-family housing starts in August totaled 941,000, compared to a revised July figure of 983,000, a 4.3% decrease, while single-family building permits totaled 949,000, or 2% above the revised July figure of 930,000.
Housing completions totaled 1.4 million, up 3.8% from 1.35 million reported in August 2022 and 5.3% above the revised July estimate of 1.33 million. There were 961,000 single-family units completed in August, compared to 1.03 million for July, a 6.6% decrease.
The rise in units completed in August likely coincides with seasonal activity that allows families to move into recently completed new homes before the start of the school year. The decrease in housing starts and building permits follows previous monthly slowdowns, although the increase in building permits issued could bode well for a slight rebound in construction activity heading into the fall months and early 2024.
Home building activity is a key economic indicator for the industry as it creates opportunities for people to move into new homes and buy furniture for those properties. But equally important is data for the sale of existing homes, which the National Association of Realtors also released this week. Homeowners’ ability to sell those properties helps facilitate their move into new construction.
By region, the activity for the month of August was as follows:
In the Northeast, housing starts totaled 97 million, down 45.5% from the 178 million reported in August 2022 but up 1% from the 96 million reported in July. The number of building permits issued in the region totaled 118 million, down 14.5% from the 138 million reported in August 2022 but up 9.3% from the 108 million reported in July. The number of units completed totaled 107 million, down 15.7% from the 127 million reported in August 2022, but up 17.6% from the 91 million reported in July.
In the Midwest, there were 160,000 housing starts in August, down 12.1% from the 182,000 reported in August 2022 and down 7.5% from the 173,000 reported in July. There were 208,000 building permits issued in the region, down .5% from the 209,000 reported in August 2022, but up 14.3% from the 182,000 reported in July. There were 201,000 units completed in August, down 2.04% from the 206,000 reported last year and even with the 201,000 reported in July.
In the South, there were 745,000 housing starts in August, down 6.1% from the 793,000 reported in August last year and down 4.9% from the 783,000 reported in July. There were 843,000 building permits issued in August, down 1.6% from the 857,000 reported in August 2022, but up 3.9% from the 811,000 reported in July. In the region, there were 783,000 units completed, up 16.3% from the 673,000 reported in August 2022, and also up 4.1% from the 752,000 reported in July.
In the West, there were 281,000 housing units started in August, down 20.2% from the 352,000 reported in August 2022 and down 28.9% from the 395,000 reported in July. In the region, there were 374,000 permits issued, down 2.1% from the 382,000 issued last year, but up 9.4% from the 342,000 issued in July. There were 315,000 units completed, down 9.7% from the 349,000 completed in August 2022, but up 8.2% from the 291,000 completed in July.