THUNDER BAY – The economy in Western Canada may be a factor in the declining number of housing starts across Canada.
The trend measure of housing starts in Canada was 199,169 units in January compared to 203,304 in December, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). The trend is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) of housing starts.
The Thunder Bay numbers should be out shortly. It is not known if the unseasonable weather will have an impact on local housing start numbers.
“Housing starts trended down across the country with the exception of Ontario,” said Bob Dugan, CMHC Chief Economist. “The overall decline is mostly attributable to a slowdown in the Prairies where the housing starts trend was at a 4-year low in January. The slowdown in new housing activity coincides with an unemployment rate that is at a 5-year high in Alberta”.
CMHC uses the trend measure as a complement to the monthly SAAR of housing starts to account for considerable swings in monthly estimates and obtain a more complete picture of the state of Canada’s housing market. In some situations analyzing only SAAR data can be misleading, as they are largely driven by the multi-unit segment of the market which can vary significantly from one month to the next.
The standalone monthly SAAR was 165,861 units in January, down from 172,533 units in December. The SAAR of urban starts decreased by 3.0 per cent in January to 153,701 units. Multiple urban starts decreased by 5.3 per cent to 95,406 units in January and the single-detached urban starts increased by 1.0 per cent to 58,295 units.
In January, the seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts decreased in Québec, the Prairies and British Columbia, but increased in Ontario and Atlantic Canada.
Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 12,160 units.