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 January 2019.
Privately owned housing units authorized by building permits in January were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,345,000. This is 1.4 percent (±0.8 percent) above the revised December rate of 1,326,000 but is 1.5 percent (±1.0 percent) below the January 2018 rate of 1,366,000. Single‐family authorizations in January were at a rate of 812,000; this is 2.1 percent (±1.0 percent) below the revised December figure of 829,000. Authorizations of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 482,000 in January.
Privately owned housing starts in January were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,230,000. This is 18.6 percent (±26.6 percent)* above the revised December estimate of 1,037,000, but is 7.8 percent (±12.7 percent)* below the January 2018 rate of 1,334,000. Single‐family housing starts in January were at a rate of 926,000; this is 25.1 percent (±29.0 percent)* above the revised December figure of 740,000. The January rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 289,000.
Privately owned housing completions in January were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,244,000. This is 27.6 percent (±13.5 percent) above the revised December estimate of 975,000 and is 2.1 percent (±12.2 percent)* above the January 2018 rate of 1,218,000. Single‐family housing completions in January were at a rate of 914,000; this is 30.2 percent (±14.4 percent) above the revised December rate of 702,000. The January rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 327,000.
The February report is scheduled for release on March 26, 2019.
Data collection and processing were delayed for this indicator release due to the lapse in federal funding from December 22, 2018 through January 25, 2019. While response rates were consistent with normal levels, delays in data collection could make it more difficult to determine exact start and completion dates. However, processing and data quality were monitored and no systematic issues were identified.
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.