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New Residential Construction

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Press Release FAQs


1. How do you obtain the data for this survey?

The Survey of Construction estimates the amount of new, privately-owned construction in areas that require a building permit and in areas that do not require a building permit. Areas that do not require a building permit are referred to as non-permit (NP) areas. Less than 2 percent of all new construction takes place in NP areas. Census Field Representatives collect data for both of these areas. For areas requiring a permit, they visit a sample of permit offices and select a sample of permits authorizing private new residential construction. These permits are then followed through to see when they are started and completed, and when they are sold for single-family units that are built to be sold. Information on physical and financial characteristics are also collected. For NP areas, roads in sampled NP areas are driven as least once every 3 months to see if there is any new construction. Further information on how data for this survey are obtained can be found on our How the Data are Collected page.

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2. Why are monthly estimates revised?

Each month the US Census Bureau publishes preliminary estimates of building permits, housing starts, and housing completions. The US Census Bureau releases these estimates to provide government and private data users with early measures of new privately owned residential construction and new residential sales activity. A necessary part of the process of issuing these early data involves the issuance of subsequent revisions. The revisions are primarily the result of the replacement of imputed data with data which are reported in subsequent months. More information on the revision of monthly estimates can be found on our Revision Analysis page.

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3. Are apartments included in your estimates?

Yes, certain apartments our included in our data. A housing unit, as defined for purposes of these data, is a house, an apartment, a group of rooms, or a single room intended for occupancy as separate living quarters. Each apartment unit in an apartment building is counted as one housing unit. Housing units, as distinguished from "HUD-code" manufactured (mobile) homes, include conventional "site-built" units, prefabricated, panelized, sectional, and modular units.

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4. What is a seasonally adjusted annual rate?

Most of the seasonally adjusted series are shown as seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR). The seasonally adjusted annual rate is the seasonally adjusted monthly value multiplied by 12. The benefit of the annual rate is that not only can one monthly estimate be compared with another; monthly data can also be compared with an annual total. The seasonally adjusted annual rate is neither a forecast nor a projection; rather it is a description of the rate of building permits, housing starts, housing completions, or new home sales in the particular month for which they are calculated.

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5. Why are the data seasonally adjusted?

Seasonal movements are often large enough that they mask other characteristics of the data that are of interest to analysts of current economic trends. For example, if each month has a different seasonal tendency toward high or low values it can be difficult to detect the general direction of a time series' recent monthly movement (increase, decrease, turning point, no change, consistency with another economic indicator, etc.). Seasonal adjustment produces data in which the values of neighboring months are usually easier to compare. Many data users prefer seasonally adjusted data because they want to see those characteristics that seasonal movements tend to mask, especially changes in the direction of the series.

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6. What is the RSE (relative standard error)?

The estimated standard error expressed as a percent of the estimated total or proportion, that is, the estimated standard error times 100 divided by the estimate. This is also called coefficient of variation (CV). It is a measure of sampling error.

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7. What is a 90% confidence interval?

The sample estimate and an estimate of its standard error allow us to construct interval estimates with prescribed confidence that the interval includes the average result of all possible samples with the same size and design. Further information can be found under the confidence interval definition on our Definitions page.

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8. Which states are in each of the 4 Census regions?

A map of the regions can be found at: https://www.census.gov/geo/reference/webatlas/regions.html.

Northeast Midwest South West
Connecticut Illinois Alabama Alaska
Maine Indiana Arkansas Arizona
Massachusetts Iowa Delaware California
New Hampshire Kansas District of Columbia Colorado
New Jersey Michigan Florida Hawaii
New York Minnesota Georgia Idaho
Pennsylvania Missouri Kentucky Montana
Rhode Island Nebraska Louisiana Nevada
Vermont North Dakota Maryland New Mexico
  Ohio Mississippi Oregon
  South Dakota North Carolina Utah
  Wisconsin Oklahoma Washington
    South Carolina Wyoming
    West Virginia  

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9. Are the data available at the state level?

The only series on new residential construction that is available at a smaller geographic area is the housing units authorized by building permits. Building permits data are collected from individual permit offices, most of which are municipalities; the remainder are counties, townships, or New England and Middle Atlantic-type towns. Because building permits are public records, local area data can be published without any confidentiality concerns. From local area data, estimates are tabulated for counties, states, Metropolitan Areas, Census Divisions, Census Regions, and the United States. Please go to the Building Permits Survey page for more information.

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10. Is a (Z) a true zero?

A (Z) is not necessarily a true zero. It represents a relative standard error less than 0.5 percent.

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11. Where can I find historic releases?

Historic New Residential Construction press releases can be found on our Historic Releases page.

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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | New Residential Construction | (301) 763-5160 |  Last Revised: August 15, 2022