Thursday, September 17, 2009
The Census Bureau reported(.pdf) housing starts and permits for new construction rose to their highest level in nine months, however, homebuilding remains at historically low levels.
U.S. housing starts rose from an upwardly revised annual rate of 589,000 in July to 598,000 last month, down 29.6 percent from a year ago and a full 74 percent below the peak of homebuilding activity in January 2006.
Similarly, permits for new construction improved from the prior month's upwardly revised rate of 564,000 to 579,000 in August, a decline of 32.4 percent from last year at this time and down 74 percent from the September 2005 peak.
Locally, here in Bend, Oregon, a total of 12 building permits were issued last month, down 60 percent from a year ago and a stunning 98 percent below the peak of 700 as reported the other day when the local TV news discussed the city's budget problems, a good portion of which result from the city's dependence on building permits for revenue.