Housing starts in August were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,180,000, an 0.8% decline from the revised July estimate of 1,190,000 but 1.4% above the August 2016 rate of 1,164,000, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday morning. Single-family housing starts in August were at a rate of 851,000, up 1.6% above the revised July figure of 838,000 and up 17.1% from August 2016.
Regionally, starts in the Northeast were down 8.7% and 21.1% from July and August, 2016, respectively, with single-family down 1.5% and up 26.9%, also from July and August a year earlier. The Northeast is a particularly fickle region due to the relatively lackluster pace of new-home building. The Midwest posted sequential and year-over-year gains of 22% and 17.6%, respectively, but saw single-family slip by rates of 4.3% and 2.7%, respectively. In the South, starts were down 7.9% from July but up 0.2% from a year earlier, with single-family up 1.3% and 22.8% respectively. The West saw starts rise 4% sequentially and 4.3% year-over-year, with single-family rising 6.5% and 14.6%, respectively.
Housing units authorized by building permits in August were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,300,000, 5.7% above the revised July rate of 1,230,000 and is 8.3% above the August 2016 rate of 1,200,000. Single-family authorizations in August were at a rate of 800,000, 1.5% below the revised July figure of 812,000 but 7.7% ahead of the pace of August, 2016. Permits were particularly robust in the West, with total permits rising 15.3% from July and 27% from last August and single-family permits up 7% and 16.4% sequentially and year-over-year.
Housing completions in August were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,075,000, a drop of 10.2% from the revised July estimate of 1,197,000 but 3.4 % above the August 2016 rate of 1,040,000. Single-family housing completions in August were at a rate of 724,000, 13.3% below the revised July rate of 835,000 and 2.7% off the pace of a year earlier.
Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, said, "Following August’s decline in new home construction, there will no doubt be a further temporary setback to housing starts in upcoming months due to the impacts of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma on Texas and Florida, respectively. The shortage of labor in construction will further intensify as more workers concentrate on rebuilding rather than on new construction. The nation’s housing shortage unfortunately looks to be with us well into the next year."