Housing Starts Surge in February 2022

Up by 6.8% from January and by 22.3% from a year ago

In February 2022, privately owned housing starts increased by 6.8% from January on a seasonally adjusted annual basis, the U.S. Census Bureau reported on March 17, 2022. Meanwhile, privately owned housing completions rose by 5.9% from January, but building permits for privately owned building units declined by 1.9%. Compared to February 2021, these figures were up by 22.3%, down by 2.8%, and up by 7.7%, respectively.

The February 2022 housing starts figure was higher than the consensus estimate among economists by 4.7%. The building permits figure was 0.5% higher.

Key Takeaways

  • Housing starts in February 2022 were up sharply compared to January and year over year, beating the estimates.
  • Housing completions were up from January but down year over year.
  • Building permits declined from January but were up year over year and slightly exceeded estimates.

Housing Starts Detail

Privately owned housing starts in February were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,769,000. This was 6.8% above the revised January estimate of 1,657,000 and 22.3% above the February 2021 rate of 1,447,000.  

Single‐family housing starts in January were at an annual rate of 1,116,000. This was 5.6% below the revised December figure of 1,182,000.

Housing Completions Detail

Privately owned housing completions in February were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,309,000.  This was 5.9% below the revised January estimate of 1,236,000 but 2.8% below the February 2021 rate of 1,347,000.  

Single‐family housing completions in February were at a rate of 1,034,000. This was 12.1% above the revised January rate of 922,000. The February rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 266,000.

Building Permits Detail

Privately owned housing units authorized by building permits in February were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,859,000.  This was 1.9% below the revised January rate of 1,895,000 but was 7.7% above the February 2021 rate of 1,726,000.  

Single‐family authorizations in February were at a rate of 1,207,000. This was 0.5% below the revised January figure of 1,213,000. Authorizations of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 597,000 in February.

Interpreting the Data

The new residential construction report for February 2022 includes explanatory notes. Among them is this advisory: "In interpreting changes in the statistics in this release, note that month‐to‐month changes in seasonally adjusted statistics often show movements which may be irregular. It may take three months to establish an underlying trend for building permit authorizations, six months for total starts, and six months for total completions."

Regarding initial monthly estimates and later data revisions, the notes indicate: "On average, the preliminary seasonally adjusted estimates of total building permits, housing starts and housing completions are revised 2.2 percent or less."

Article Sources

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  1. U.S. Census Bureau. "Monthly New Residential Construction, February 2022."

  2. Seeking Alpha. "Housing Starts and Permits Report 6.8% Growth in February."

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