Housing Starts Plunge 30.6%

Friday, May 16, 2008 | 10:38 AM

Does this look like a bottom to you ?


chart courtesy of Barron's Econoday


The Commerce Department released the Housing Starts data. It was not pretty

Construction of single-family houses in April dropped to the lowest level in 17 years. Builders broke ground on 692,000 single units at an annual rate, the fewest since January 1991.

Multiifamily units -- Condos, townhouses, and apartments -- rebounded for the month. Total housing starts were up 8.2% since last month, but plummeted 30.6% below the level of construction in April 2007.


Builders have been reluctant to build because demand for new homes has plunged and the supply of unsold property remained high. The latest data show new-home sales, for March, were down 36.6% from a year earlier. On Thursday, the National Association of Home Builders reported its index for sales of new, single-family homes slipped to 19 in May from 20. The gauge is based on a survey of builders asked about prospects for sales.

The overall WSJ article was good, despite the WTF headline: Housing Starts Post Surprise Rise. Bloomberg seemed to find a better balance int heir header: Housing Starts in U.S. Rise; Single-Family Construction Hits 17-Year Low.

Given the huge inventory overhang, weak housing starts is (perversely) a positive for the housing market!


Manufacturing and Construction Division
U.S. Census Bureau, MAY 16, 2008 AT 8:30 A.M. EDT

Housing Starts Post Surprise Rise 
JEFF BATER May 16, 2008
WSJ, 9:51 a.m. 

Friday, May 16, 2008 | 10:38 AM | Permalink | Comments (29) | TrackBack (1)
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» Estimated Relative Standard Errors in Housing Data from The Big Picture
Regarding yesterday's New Home Starts, an emailer writes: You used to discuss the Commerce Dept.'s standard statistical error regularly. In light of that surprising Housing Start number, could you please update that?Sure thing. I love this sort of data... [Read More]

Tracked on May 17, 2008 11:10:51 AM


Hey Barry ... did you hear "Consumer confidence tumbled to its lowest in 28 years!"

This is without doubt another "Bottom" indicator that the recession is already behind us. Cheers!

Posted by: Donny | May 16, 2008 10:47:27 AM

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