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Building Permits Survey

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The purpose of the Building Permits Survey is to provide national, state, and local statistics on new privately-owned residential construction. The United States Code, Title 13, authorizes this survey, provides for voluntary responses, and provides an exception to confidentiality for public records.


All places issuing building permits for privately-owned residential structures. Over 98 percent of all privately-owned residential buildings constructed are in permit-issuing places.


Data collected include number of buildings, number of housing units, and permit valuation by size of structure.


Data on permits issued for new construction are available monthly and annually since 1959; reported data are for permit issuing activity taking place during the applicable reference period. Prior to 1959, data were collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


The Monthly Building Permits Survey is conducted for about 8,400 permit-issuing places. These 8,400 permit-issuing places each issue an average of at least 6 permits per year and represent about 99% of the annual total of new residential housing units authorized. The remaining 11,600 permit-issuing places have their activity imputed each month. Annually all 20,000 permit-issuing places are surveyed.

Estimates include all permit-issuing places nationwide. If a survey report is not received or a place is not collected missing data on permits for new construction are imputed except for places that are also selected for the Survey of Construction (SOC). For these places, SOC permit data are used.

Reported data on permits for new construction are seasonally adjusted by Census Region and type of structure. The Building Permits Survey Methodology document contains further information.


New Residential Construction press releases contain the first available permit data and are released on the or about the 12th working day following the reference month. The reports contain the first available preliminary monthly estimates of the number of new housing units authorized. Data are shown by type of structure, at the national level, and by Census Region. All data are placed on the Census website at: www.census.gov/permits.

Revised monthly data are released on or about the 18th working day following the reference month. At that time, monthly estimates are available at the Census Division, state, metropolitan area, county, and permit-issuing-place levels. Public-use computer data files are also available at that time. All data are placed on the website shown above. Estimates in the New Residential Construction press release are not updated on the 18th working day. Any revisions are shown in the next month's release.


The Conference Board uses the data for developing its index of leading economic indicators. The Federal Reserve Board uses the data to analyze national and regional economic conditions. The Department of Housing and Urban Development uses the data to evaluate housing programs. Financial institutions use these statistics to estimate mortgage demand. Private businesses use them for market planning, material use, and investment analysis.


Provides a designated principal economic indicator and the only source of current and consistent small area data on new authorizations for residential construction. Data are from public records and not subject to confidentiality restrictions.


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