WASHINGTON (1/22/15)--Housing starts rose 4.4% in December to 1.089 million after seasonal adjustments and annualizing, according to the Census Bureau.
The increase, which pushed starts 5.3% above their year-ago levels, was driven by single-family construction rather than apartment structures, with three of four census regions posting gains, according to Moody's.
"Residential construction ended 2014 on a high note, in particular showing the kind of increase in single-family construction volume that the economy needs to see more if construction employment and other housing-related industries are to recover," said Andres Carbacho-Burgos, Moody's analyst (Economy.com Jan. 21). "The only sour taste was from a monthly decline in total permits, but this is entirely because of falling multifamily construction, an unsurprising decline given how fast apartment construction recovered in 2012-13."
Broken down, single-family starts rose 7.2% for the month, and climbed by 7.9% year-over-year. Multifamily starts fell 4.2%, but stood 0.3% higher than their year-ago levels.
Completions, meanwhile, have been accelerating, Moody's said.
Total completions jumped 6.3% in December, and rose by 19.6% annually, with both single- and multifamily completions advancing.
Permits fell 1.9% during the month, led by volatile multifamily permits, which dropped by 12.4%. Single-family permits rose 4.5% in December and sat 8.1% higher than levels seen in December 2013.
Regionally, housing starts increased 12.5% in the Northeast, 8.8% in the South and 5.8% in the West. The Midwest experienced a poor December, however, watching starts fall 13.3% from their November levels.
Multifamily starts drove the decline in overall starts for the Midwest.