Housing Starts Surging, but Permits Flat

A blog about business and economics.
April 16 2013 9:01 AM

Housing Starts Surging, but Permits Flat

Year on year it's clear that housing is still surging with permits up 17.3 percent and starts up 14 percent

Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images

The headline housing starts number for March is out today (PDF) and it shows a 7 percent month-to-month increase in housing starts in March 2013. On the other hand, the new housing permits series, which I like better since it can be collected with less sampling error, shows an essentially flat market on a month-to-month basis. Year on year it's clear that housing is still surging with permits up 17.3 percent and starts up 14 percent.

An interesting trend is that almost 40 percent of these starts are in multifamily units which is way higher than the 20 percent long-term average. That's precisely what the American economy needs. Recession-battered household may have neither the downpayment nor the credit rating needed to become homeowners but they still need a place to live and between high corporate profits and decent stock market performance there are people out there with the means to finance home construction. It continues to seem to me that the best possible news for the national economy would be for high-cost metro areas to change zoning rules to allow for more multi-family construction both in center cities and in inner ring suburbs. There's very little fungibility in the nation's housing stock, and vacant single-family structures in the suburbs of Las Vegas are a poor substitute for abundant dwellings in the Bay Area, Greater New York, Washington, Seattle, and other prosperous-but-expensive parts of the country.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.



Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore, and Schools Are Getting Worried

The Good Wife Is Cynical, Thrilling, and Grown-Up. It’s Also TV’s Best Drama.

  News & Politics
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.