FEB. 24, 2022 — The U.S. Census Bureau today released detailed construction data from the monthly Building Permits Survey (BPS). The monthly BPS data was previously limited to representative state-level coverage but will now provide complete coverage down to the county- and metro-area level. The new, granular estimates can be accessed on the BPS webpage or the interactive BPS visualization.
The BPS provides estimates of the number of new housing units authorized to be built. Because permit issuance is often the first step in the construction process, these estimates serve as a leading indicator of the construction sector’s health and performance. Among other uses, the estimates are a component of the Conference Board’s U.S. Leading Economic Index. Additionally, they feed into key federal economic indicators released by the Census Bureau, including New Residential Construction (NRC), New Residential Sales (NRS), and the Value of Construction Put in Place (VIP).
Prior to the January release, building permit estimates were derived from a probability sample of permit-issuing jurisdictions across the United States. This design produced monthly estimates that were representative at the state level and higher. Estimates below the state level were a simple tally of sampled jurisdictions and therefore not necessarily complete if the sample did not include all jurisdictions within the substate geography.
Moving forward, the BPS design will leverage a cut-off sample, whereby complete estimates will be produced for all geographies down to the local level. The cutoff sample approach focuses data collection on places with the highest level of permit activity and relies on modeling for places with little to no permit activity based on historical averages. For more details on the change in methodology, visit our FAQs.
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