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July/August 2003

Industry Stats

Housing Starts Rise Strong in May
Builders speed up the pace at which they started work on new homes and apartments in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.73 million units, up 6.1 percent from the previous month, the Commerce Department reported recently. Healthy gains in building permits and rising backlogs of unused permits also bode well for future gains in this singularly well-performing sector of the economy.

“After some weather-related delays in April, builders were able to pick up the pace of new construction in May,” said Kent Conine, president of the National Association of Home Builders and a home and apartment builder from Dallas. “However, unusually wet weather in much of the East and parts of the Midwest and West likely still kept some construction in check last month, and we could see that activity carry over for additional solid gains in June’s report.”

Homebuilders boosted the pace of single-family housing construction 1.5 percent in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.38 million units. Meanwhile, multifamily starts, which show significant month-to-month volatility traditionally, rose 29.2 percent in May to a 354,000-unit rate. In both sectors, the year-to-date construction total is running above last year’s excellent pace.

 

Monthly Housing Starts

Period      Total In structures with-   
2003 1 unit 2-4 units 5 units or more Northeast Midwest South West
May (p)   1,732 1,378 26 328 147 366 779 440
Apr (r)     1,632 1,358 31 243 149 321 725 437
Mar (r)    1,742 1,393 36 313 155 351 814 422
Feb          1,640 1,312 30 298 142 279 759 460
Jan          1,828 1,509 41 278 145 349 820 514
Average relative 
standard error 
(RSE) (%)* 
      3
3  --  10 10 7 4 6
Seasonally adjusted annual rate.
Thousands of units. Detail may not add to total because of rounding.
* Average RSE for the latest 6-month period.

Source: NAHB


U.S. Fencing Products to Reach $3.3 Billion
Demand for fencing products in the United States is forecast to increase nearly 5 percent per year through 2007 to $3.3 billion, measured at the manufacturer’s level, according to the Cleveland-based Freedonia Group Inc.’s new study, Fencing.

Fencing Demand

  % Annual Growth
Item 1997 2002 2007 02/97 07/02
Fencing Demand 2119 2567 3260 3.9 4.9
Wood 1011 1153 1395 2.7 3.9
Metal 969 1122 1395 3.0 4.5
Plastic 60 172 295 23.4 11.4
Concrete/other 79 120 175 8.7 7.8

Source: The Fredonia Group Inc.


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