Commerce Department Releases Residential Construction Data

The Commerce Department’s U.S. Census Bureau, along with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, today released new residential construction data for May 2012. Permits for new housing units climbed 7.9 percent from April. Housing starts were down 4.8 percent from April but up 28.5 percent from May 2011.

“Today’s data show that the housing market continues to improve. Housing permits are up 31 percent in the first 5 months of this year compared to last and housing starts are up 27 percent,” says Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank. “However, while the housing market is stabilizing, too many homes are still underwater and too many homeowners are still struggling to make ends meet. That is why it’s so important that Congress support the president’s proposals to continue boosting jobs and ensure that everyone gets a fair shot, including cutting red tape so responsible homeowners who are paying their mortgage can refinance at today’s lower rates.”

Privately owned housing units authorized by building permits in May were at a seasonally adjusted rate of 780,000, which is 7.9 percent above the revised April rate of 723,000 and 25 percent above the May 2011 estimate of 624,000. Single-family authorizations in May were at a rate of 494,000; this is 4 percent above the revised April figure of 475,000. Authorizations of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 266,000 in May.

Privately owned housing starts in May were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 708,000. This is 4.8 percent below the revised April estimate of 744,000, but is 28.5 percent above the May 2011 rate of 551,000. Single-family housing starts in May were at a rate of 516,000, which is 3.2 percent above the revised April figure of 500,000. The May rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 179,000.

Privately-owned housing completions in May were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 598,000. This is 10.3 percent below the revised April estimate of 667,000, but is 10.1 percent above the May 2011 rate of 543,000. Single-family housing completions in May were at a rate of 458,000; this is 6.3 percent below the revised April rate of 489,000. The May rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 130,000.

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