The U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development jointly announced the following new residential construction statistics for August 2005:

Privately owned housing starts in August were down slightly from the prior month and from the August 2004 level, the U.S. Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development announced today. Housing starts were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2,009,000, which is about 1.3 percent below the revised July estimate and about 0.8 percent below the August 2004 rate.

The seasonally adjusted annual rate projects a monthly total over a 12-month period, factoring in seasonal fluctuations in residential construction activity.

Single-family housing starts in August 2005 were at a rate of 1,709,000, which is about 0.1 percent above the July figure and 1.2 percent above the August 2004 rate. The August 2005 rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 256,000.

Privately owned housing units authorized by building permits in August were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2,124,000. This is about 2.2 percent below the revised July rate of 2,171,000, but is about 3.2 percent above the August 2004 estimate of 2,058,000. Single-family authorizations in August were at a rate of 1,668,000; this is about 1.3 percent below the July figure of 1,690,000. Authorizations of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 366,000 in August.

Privately owned housing completions in August were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,860,000. This is about 0.2 percent below the revised July estimate of 1,863,000 and is about 2.6 percent below the August 2004 rate of 1,909,000. Single-family housing completions in August 2005 were at a rate of 1,551,000; this is about 4.7 percent below the July figure of 1,627,000. The August rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 261,000.

Regionally, housing starts were down about 7.4 percent in the Northeast, down 6.2 percent in the Midwest, up 3.5 percent in the West, and up 0.3 percent in the South from August 2004 to August 2005. The seasonally adjusted annual rate of new privately owned housing units authorized in permit issuing places dropped 8.9 percent in the Midwest while increasing 9.8 percent in the South, 2.8 percent in the Northeast and 0.2 percent in the West from August 2004 to August 2005.

The Census Bureau notes that month-to-month changes in seasonally adjusted statistics often show movements that may be irregular. It may take four months to establish an underlying trend for building permit authorizations, six months for total starts, and six months for total completions, according to the announcement. The new residential construction statistics are estimated from sample surveys and are subject to sampling variability as well as non-sampling error including bias and variance from response, non-reporting, and under-coverage.

On average, the preliminary seasonally adjusted estimates of total building permits, housing starts and housing completions are revised about 1 percent.

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