Housing starts down 11.2 percent in December
Housing starts fell 11.2 percent in December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.08 million units, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Commerce Department that was delayed due to the partial government shutdown. Multifamily starts fell 20.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 320,000 units while single-family production posted a 6.7 percent decline to 758,000 units.
However, single-family and multifamily starts each posted a yearly gain. Single-family production was up 2.8 percent in 2018 to a rate of 872,800, the highest annual figure since the Great Recession. Multifamily starts posted a 5.5 percent gain in 2018 to 373,700 units.
Overall permits — which are an indicator of future housing production — inched up 0.3 percent in December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.33 million. Single-family permits fell 2.2 percent to an 829,000 unit pace in December while multifamily permits increased 4.9 percent to an annualized rate of 497,000.
For 2018, single-family permits posted a 4 percent gain of 852,700 over the previous year while multifamily permits edged down 0.9 percent to 458,000.
Regionally in December, combined single-family and multifamily housing starts were unchanged in the Northeast. Starts fell 26.3 percent in the West, 13.2 percent in the Midwest and 6 percent in the South.
Overall permit issuance in December rose 17.1 percent in the West. Permits were down 6 percent in the Northeast, 17.6 percent in the Midwest and 2 percent in the South.