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05/18/2021

Housing starts, in three charts

More numbers, more graphics from the April residential construction report.

Housing starts tumbled to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.569 million in April, that's down 9.5% compared to March.

Of course, there's always more to the story. Here are three more charts that help reveal the longer term trends in the numbers. 

Total Housing starts
Through April, SAAR, in thousands

chart, bar chart

The pace of starts in April dropped to 1,569,000. That's down from 1,733,000 in March, but up 67.3% from the pandemic-dampered April 2020 rate of 938,000. The latest rate is also well above the pre-pandemic rate from April 2019. 

 

Unadjusted numbers
Total housing starts, in thousands

chart, bar chart

On an unadjusted basis, April was down only slightly from March, and produced more housing starts than any month in 2020. 

 

Single-family starts
Jan. 2019 to April 2021, SAAR, in thousands

chart, line chart

Single-family starts were down 13.4% from March to a rate of 1,087,000.

Analysts point to supply chain issues and the rising price of lumber as a damper on residential construction. Those headwinds are countered by tailwinds in the form of demand for open spaces and detached homes in a post-pandemic world.

For the Census Bureau's full report on April residential construction data, click here