The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Census Bureau jointly announced the following new residential construction statistics for April 2020.
Privately owned housing units authorized by building permits in April were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,074,000. This is 20.8 percent (±0.9 percent) below the revised March rate of 1,356,000 and is 19.2 percent (±0.9 percent) below the April 2019 rate of 1,333,000. Single‐family authorizations in April were at a rate of 669,000; this is 24.3 percent (±1.6 percent) below the revised March figure of 884,000. Authorizations of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 373,000 in April.
Privately owned housing starts in April were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 891,000. This is 30.2 percent (±11.0 percent) below the revised March estimate of 1,276,000 and is 29.7 percent (±8.1 percent) below the April 2019 rate of 1,267,000. Single‐family housing starts in April were at a rate of 650,000; this is 25.4 percent (±9.6 percent) below the revised March figure of 871,000. The April rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 234,000.
Privately‐owned housing completions in April were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,176,000. This is 8.1 percent (±13.5 percent)* below the revised March estimate of 1,279,000 and is 11.8 percent (±9.9 percent) below the April 2019 rate of 1,334,000. Single‐family housing completions in April were at a rate of 865,000; this is 4.9 percent (±16.7 percent)* below the revised March rate of 910,000. The April rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 304,000.
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. The statistics in this release are estimated from sample surveys and are subject to sampling variability as well as nonsampling error including bias and variance from response, nonreporting, and undercoverage. Estimated relative standard errors of the most recent data are shown in the tables. Whenever a statement such as “2.5 percent (±3.2 percent) above” appears in the text, this indicates the range (-0.7 to +5.7 percent) in which the actual percentage change is likely to have occurred. All ranges given for percentage changes are 90 percent confidence intervals and account only for sampling variability. If a range does not contain zero, the change is statistically significant. If it does contain zero, the change is not statistically significant; that is, it is uncertain whether there was an increase or decrease. The same policies apply to the confidence intervals for percentage changes shown in the tables. On average, the preliminary seasonally adjusted estimates of total building permits, housing starts and housing completions are revised 3 percent or less. Explanations of confidence intervals and sampling variability can be found at the Census Bureau’s website.
* The 90 percent confidence interval includes zero. In such cases, there is insufficient statistical evidence to conclude that the actual change is different from zero.