The number of residential building permits issued nationwide during the first eight months of this year was 3.7% greater than during January-August of 2001, according to preliminary estimates by the U.S. Commerce Department.
Unit-permit totals for eight of the nine regions of the country were higher during January-August of this year than over the first eight months of 2001. As a group, the Rocky Mountain states recorded 6.7% fewer permits through August of this year than during the same period of 2001.
Activity in the nation's largest-volume home building state, Florida, continued at a healthy pace. With 11.4% more permits issued through August of this year than during the first eight months of 2001, Florida remains the fastest-growing large state in the nation. And permit volume in "runner-up" Texas was growing nearly as fast - now up 10.3% when compared with the eight-month total of a year ago. Furthermore, it's noteworthy that growth trends in Texas have improved consistently this year, even as gains have weakened during the past three months - if only just a bit - in Florida. And California - the third-largest market in permit volume throughout 2001 - recorded through August 2002 a 0.9% gain in the unit-permit total versus a year ago, after running consistently below the 2001 building pace during the first half of this year.
The number of residential units permitted for construction during the first eight months of this year was greater than during January-August of 2001 in 38 states. Among the 12 states recording over-the-year losses, the largest decreases (in percentage terms) were in Colorado (-17.5%), Kansas (-14.9%), Nevada (-14.2%), Idaho (-5.9%), Tennessee (-5.4%) and North Carolina (-5.4%). Losses of a lesser magnitude were recorded in Washington, Alaska, Ohio, Maryland, Michigan and South Dakota.
However, these accumulated setbacks were more than offset by gains in every other state. Solid double-digit over-the-year gains were recorded in 16 states during the first eight months of 2002. Notable trends among relatively high-volume home building states were gains in Louisiana (+25.7%), Alabama (+23.0%), Florida (+11.4%), Minnesota (+11.0%), Virginia (+10.6%), New York (+10.4%), Texas (+10.3%), Missouri (+8.9%) and South Carolina (+8.0%).