New housing starts continue to grow strongly. The 12-month rolling total of starts which is a more statistically robust measure of trends in housing start data grew 11.9% year-over-year in February to 1,131,400 starts. This represents the most starts in a 12-month period since June 2008.
According to Trulia chief economist Ralph McLaughlin, this positive is overshadowed by history, or 50 years of it, where housing starts averaged 1.4 million vs. much smaller total population bases. Where's all those new people going to live? What McLaughlin notes is that multifamily mojo is getting long in the tooth, while single-family--thanks to the mid-aging of millennials, is on the up and up. McLaughlin writes:
Multifamily starts in 5+ unit buildings continue to hover around a 42-year high, but has shown recent signs of a downward trend as a share of all new starts. This slight downward trend of new starts in multifamily units which tend to primarily consist of renter occupied units is likely a result of an increase in single-family starts as well rather than a drop in investment by multifamily builders.
By the by, don't miss Calculated Risk host Bill McBride commentary on housing starts and permits data as well. You can find it here.