For February of 2013, the Census Bureau’s preliminary estimate for starts in buildings with five or more apartments came in at 285,000 (at a seasonally adjusted annual rate). In the Census construction report, this shows up as less than a 1 percent increase from January, but the January number itself was revised upward by nearly 9 percent—so 285,000 is actually 9.6 percent higher than the preliminary starts rate for January originally reported in last month’s blog.
Although well below the anomalous spike of December, the February 2013 five-plus starts rate appears strong compared to any other month from recent history (the same general pattern seen in total housing starts).
Another interesting statistic in the February 2013 construction report was the (seasonally adjusted annual) rate at which new five-plus permits were issued during the month. The new five-plus permit rate increased 7.5 percent to 316,000—which at first may not seem terribly dramatic, but is up nearly 55 percent year-over-year and the highest the five-plus permit rate has been since July of 2008.
The number of unused previously issued five-plus permits remaining in the pipeline at the end of the month also remained relatively healthy at 47,700 (not seasonally adjusted)—up 2.7 percent from January and 46.4 percent year-over-year. Overall, the permit numbers have been strong enough to support a five-plus starts rate as high as February’s 285,000 over the next couple of months.