The U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development on Tuesday morning jointly announced the following new residential construction statistics for March 2016:

BUILDING PERMITS

Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in March were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,086,000. This is 7.7 percent (±1.2%) below the revised February rate of 1,177,000, but is 4.6 percent (±0.9%) above the March 2015 estimate of 1,038,000. The total was below Econoday analyst estimates of 1.2 million.

Single-family authorizations in March were at a rate of 727,000; this is 1.2 percent (±1.1%) below the revised February figure of 736,000. Authorizations of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 324,000 in March.

HOUSING STARTS

Privately-owned housing starts in March were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,089,000. This is 8.8 percent (±11.1%)* below the revised February estimate of 1,194,000, but is 14.2 percent (±11.7%) above the March 2015 rate of 954,000. Analysts polled by Econoday were expecting a rate of 1.167 million.

Single-family housing starts in March were at a rate of 764,000; this is 9.2 percent (±10.3%)* below the revised February figure of 841,000. The March rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 312,000.

HOUSING COMPLETIONS

Privately-owned housing completions in March were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,061,000. This is 3.5 percent (±13.3%)* above the revised February estimate of 1,025,000 and is 31.6 percent (±15.2%) above the March 2015 rate of 806,000.

Single-family housing completions in March were at a rate of 734,000; this is 0.3 percent (±11.5%)* below the revised February rate of 736,000. The March rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 316,000.

New Residential Construction data for April 2016 will be released on Tuesday, May 17, 2016, at 8:30 A.M. EDT. Our Internet site is: http://www.census.gov/starts

To learn more about this release and the other indicators the U.S. Census Bureau publishes, join us for the Investigating Economic Indicators Webinar Series. For more information, visit www.census.gov/econ/webinar .

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EXPLANATORY NOTES

In interpreting changes in the statistics in this release, note that month-to-month changes in seasonally adjusted statistics often show movements which may be irregular. It may take 3 months to establish an underlying trend for building permit authorizations, 6 months for total starts, and 5 months for total completions. The statistics in this release are estimated from sample surveys and are subject to sampling variability as well as nonsampling error including bias and variance from response, nonreporting, and undercoverage. Estimated relative standard errors of the most recent data are shown in the tables. Whenever a statement such as “2.5 percent (±3.2%) above” appears in the text, this indicates the range (-0.7 to +5.7 percent) in which the actual percent change is likely to have occurred. All ranges given for percent changes are 90-percent confidence intervals and account only for sampling variability. If a range does not contain zero, the change is statistically significant. If it does contain zero, the change is not statistically significant; that is, it is uncertain whether there was an increase or decrease. The same policies apply to the confidence intervals for percent changes shown in the tables. On average, the preliminary seasonally adjusted estimates of total building permits, housing starts and housing completions are revised two percent or less. Explanations of confidence intervals and sampling variability can be found on our web site listed above.


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