indicatorThe Twenty-Four

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?

Seasonally-adjusted housing starts in Alberta have come down from recent highs

Seasonally-adjusted housing starts in Alberta have come down from recent highs

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