Housing Starts Stay In The Toilet, With Sales and Construction Employment

by Lee Adler, Wall Street Examiner

January housing starts stayed in the toilet, running only about flat year to year. The multifamily boom continued while single family languished. The chart tells the story.

Mainstream media reports were downbeat, citing the worst slump in 3 years, blaming, in part, the bad weather. The seasonally finagled, monthly annualized rate came in at 888,000 units. The consensus expectation was for 963,000, according to Briefing.com. I guess economists don’t follow the weather. But then they sure are good at using it as an excuse, the clownfrauds…

The real, unadjusted numbers had January starts at 59,100. That was 400 units more than January 2013. I guess the weather wasn’t that bad. Starts did decline by 10,400 units from December. In January 2013 the decline was only 4,500 units. The current number was also a good deal worse than the average January decline of the past 10 years, of 1,300 units. So all in all it was not a good month, but the overall level didn’t suffer that much, keeping pace with the year before.

Housing Starts, Sales, and Construction Employment - Click to enlarge
Housing Starts, Sales, and Construction Employment – Click to enlarge

Single family starts totaled 38,200 units, which was down 1,200 from January 2013. All of the gains in the total number were in multifamily unit starts. Single family unit starts were down by 5,000 month to month. That compares with a gain of 1,200 in January 2013, and a 10 year average decline of 1,200 for January. Again this was not a good number.

The headline numbers were reasonably accurate in showing that builders weren’t doing much in January. But anybody that lives north of the Rio Grande probably had a pretty good idea that that would be the case. Only the economists were surprised.

Meanwhile, let’s keep the numbers in perspective. Back in the final bubble year of 2006 there were 121,000 single family starts in January and 153,000 total starts. There never has been a housing “recovery” by those standards. Maybe that’s the problem. The phony bubble market ginned up the numbers that never should have been in the first place.

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