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 May 2018.
Building Permits: Privately owned housing units authorized by building permits in May were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,301,000. This is 4.6 percent (±1.4 percent) below the revised April rate of 1,364,000, but is 8.0 percent (±1.3 percent) above the May 2017 rate of 1,205,000. Single-family authorizations in May were at a rate of 884,000; this is 2.2 percent (±1.0 percent) below the revised April figure of 863,000. Authorizations of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 421,000 in May.
Housing Starts: Privately owned housing starts in May were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,350,000. This is 5.0 percent (±10.2 percent)* above the revised April estimate of 1,286,000, and is 20.3 percent (±14.4 percent) above the May 2017 rate of 1,122,000. Single-family housing starts in May were at a rate of 936,000; this is 3.9 percent (±10.6 percent)* above the revised April figure of 901,000. The May rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 404,000.
Housing Completions: Privately owned housing completions in May were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,291,000. This is 1.9 percent (±13.7 percent)* above the revised April estimate of 1,267,000 and is 10.4 percent (±12.1 percent)* above the May 2017 rate of 1,169,000. Single-family housing completions in May were at a rate of 890,000; this is 11.0 percent (±12.7 percent)* above the revised April rate of 802,000. The May rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 389,000.
The June report is scheduled for release on July 18, 2018.
With the April 2018 release, seasonally adjusted estimates of housing units authorized by building permits will be revised back to January 2012, and seasonally adjusted estimates of housing units authorized but not started, started, under construction, and completed will be revised back to January 2013. With each April release, seasonally adjusted data will now be revised for an additional five years beyond the revision period for unadjusted data. Research has shown that this revision span should produce more reliable seasonally adjusted time series.
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.