The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Census Bureau jointly announced the following new residential construction statistics for December 2019.
Privately owned housing units authorized by building permits in December were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,416,000. This is 3.9 percent (±1.6 percent) below the revised November rate of 1,474,000 but is 5.8 percent (±1.1 percent) above the December 2018 rate of 1,339,000. Single‐family authorizations in December were at a rate of 916,000; this is 0.5 percent (±1.3 percent)* below the revised November figure of 921,000. Authorizations of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 458,000 in December.
Privately owned housing starts in December were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,608,000. This is 16.9 percent (±12.8 percent) above the revised November estimate of 1,375,000 and is 40.8 percent (±20.5 percent)* above the December 2018 rate of 1,142,000. Single‐family housing starts in December were at a rate of 1,055,000; this is 11.2 percent (±10.4 percent) above the revised November figure of 949,000. The December rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 536,000.
Privately‐owned housing completions in December were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,277,000. This is 5.1 percent (±15.1 percent)* above the revised November estimate of 1,215,000 and is 19.6 percent (±14.1 percent) above the December 2018 rate of 1,068,000. Single‐family housing completions in December were at a rate of 912,000; this is 0.7 percent (±13.5 percent)* above the revised November rate of 906,000. The December rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 357,000.
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 three months to establish an underlying trend for building permit authorizations, six months for total starts, and six 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 percent) above” appears in the text, this indicates the range (-0.7 to +5.7 percent) in which the actual percentage change is likely to have occurred. All ranges given for percentage 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 percentage changes shown in the tables. On average, the preliminary seasonally adjusted estimates of total building permits, housing starts and housing completions are revised 3 percent or less. Explanations of confidence intervals and sampling variability can be found at the Census Bureau’s website.
* The 90 percent confidence interval includes zero. In such cases, there is insufficient statistical evidence to conclude that the actual change is different from zero.