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The U.S. Census Bureau reported  new residential building permits were up 9.1% in December to a seasonally adjusted 1.873M. New residential building permits are running 6.5% above the December 2020 level. Single-family permits were up 2.0% from an upwardly revised November figure of 1.106M, multifamily permits increased 19.9% to 675K. Building permits surged in the Northeast (+111.9%) and Midwest (+21.95), while both the West (-10.0%) and South (-0.85%) saw decreases. There were 1.725M construction permits issued in all of 2021, a 17.2% increase over 2020. Privately-owned housing completions reported in at 1.295M, down 8.7% from November, and down 6.6 % from December 2020. Single-family housing completions came in at 990K, 3.9%, above November’s reading. Multifamily construction fell 34.3% in December to 299K, a 28.0% year-over-year drop. Housing starts posted a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.702M, a 1.4% increase over November’s revised 1.678M, and up 2.5% over December 2020. All of the increase in housing starts is attributable to multifamily construction which posted 13.7% growth to 524K annual units, a 56% year-over-year increase. New construction for single-family homes declined 2.3% in December to 1.172M units, a 10.9% year-over-year drop. There were 1.595M housing starts in all of 2021, a 15.6% increase over 2020.
The Labor Department reported an increase in initial jobless claims  for the week ending January 15th. The seasonally adjusted initial claims came in at 286,000, an increase of 55,000 from the previous week’s upwardly revised level. The four-week moving average, which smooths out volatility was 231,000 a decrease of 20,000 from the previous week’s revised average. California led with a 6,075 increase in claims, while New York reported a 14,011 drop according to unadjusted data. For the week ending January 8th, the number of people continuing to claim unemployment also known as insured unemployment increased to 1.2%, up 0.1% from the previous week. Continuing claims reported in at 1.635M up 84,000 from the previous week’s downwardly revised level. The continuing claims 4-week moving average was 1,664,250, a decrease of 55,250 from the previous week, this is the lowest average since April 2019’s 1,663,500 reading. For the week ending January 1st, 2.128M people were receiving jobless benefits through state or federal programs, an increase of 180,114 from the previous week’s level. There were some 16.9M weekly claims filed for the comparable week in 2021.
The National Association of Realtors reported that sales of existing homes fell 4.6%  in December to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 6.18M, up 7.1% as compared to December 2020. “December saw sales retreat, but the pullback was more a sign of supply constraints than an indication of a weakened demand for housing,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. Sales of single-family homes fell to a 5.52M annual rate (-6.8% Y/Y), while existing condo sales reported a 660K annual rate (-9.6% Y/Y). Total housing inventory reported in at 910K, down 18.8% over November’s inventory (-14.2% Y/Y). Properties typically remained on the market for 19 days, up one day from November. Seventy-nine percent of the homes sold in December 2021 were on the market for less than a month. The median sales price increased to $358,000 (+15.8% Y/Y). The median existing single-family home price was $364,300 in December (+16.1% Y/Y) while existing condo price was $305,100 (+11.9% Y/Y). Existing-home sales declined in all regions; West (-6.8%), South (-6.3%), Midwest (-1.3%), and Northeast (-1.3%).
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