Housing starts up slightly in April, but begin 2023 softer than last year
Higher interest rates have weighed on new residential construction
By Siddhartha Bhattacharya, ATB Economics 17 May 2023 1 min read
Alberta’s housing starts* inched up in April, although they remained well below last year’s level.
Driven by a slight improvement in multi-unit home construction, housing starts were up by 2.7% to 27,441 units (seasonally adjusted at an annual rate or SAAR) in April, but down 32.6% from a year ago.
After reaching the highest level since 2015, new residential construction activity has started the year on a softer note. Housing starts averaged 28,115 units (SAAR) over the first four months of 2023, 12.7% lower than in 2022 and the lowest average for this period since 2020.
With the exception of British Columbia (+25.8% YTD) and Ontario (+11.5% YTD), activity was lower across every other province relative to the first four months of 2022.
Despite a solid monthly performance in April, housing starts at a national level were down 5.8% YTD.
While higher interest rates have weighed on residential construction, we expect the ongoing surge in Alberta’s population levels to offset some of this weakness through the rest of this year.
*A housing start is defined as the beginning of construction work on the building where the dwelling unit will be located. This can be described in two ways: 1) the stage when the concrete has been poured for the whole of the footing around the structure; or 2) an equivalent stage where a basement will not be part of the structure.
Answer to the previous trivia question: The United States federal government borrows an average of more than US$7 billion per business day.
Today’s trivia question: In 1971, Albertans under 15 years of age represented about 31% of the total provincial population. What was the percentage in 2022?