Census Summer Stats Show Growth in New Residential Construction

  • By Shelley D. Hutchins

Headlines about the housing market haven't been stellar lately, but most of the actual numbers, figures, and data are showing marginal increases when compared with last year's progress. Even if the recovery rate isn't what's been expected or desired by the residential design and construction industry, anecdotal as well as statistical details point toward a slow but steady boost in business for most markets. And more homeowners seem willing to take advantage of consistently low mortgage rates by moving ahead with plans to build.

Summer is prime time for the construction industry, so the July 2011 figures from the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) represent a reliable annual benchmark. The numbers listed below for building permits, housing starts, and completions are all higher than last summer's figures. The report represents straightforward statistics based on sample surveys with a 3 percent or less margin of error. Census and HUD look at all privately owned housing units, which include contractor- and owner-built attached and detached homes.

New Residential Construction Data for July 2011:

  • Building permits: the preliminary number of authorized building permits for privately owned housing units was 597,000. This is an increase of more than 20,000 permits over July 2010. Of those permits, 404,000 were for single-family houses, which is an increase of 0.5 percent since June 2011.
  • Housing Starts: attached and detached housing starts were nearly 10 percent higher then July 2010 for a total of 604,000 new units. Single-family accounted for 425,000 of those starts.
  • Housing Completions: completions increased 11.8 percent since June 2011 and are 9.5 percent higher than those in July 2010 for a total of 636,000. Of those completions, 470,000 were for single-family projects.

For full reports from the U.S. Census Bureau, click here. The next data release will be on Sept. 20.