The total number of residential permits issued nationwide during the first five months of this year was 2.6% greater than during January-May 2001, according to preliminary estimates by the U.S. Commerce Department. Momentum in the nation's largest-volume home building state, Florida, was particularly strong during the early months of 2002. And permit volume in "runner-up" Texas was ahead 4.6% compared with year-ago numbers. But California was going in the opposite direction, recording a decline of 3.6% in permit activity during the first five months of 2002.
Unit-permit totals for all seven regions in the Northeast, Midwest and South were higher during January-May of this year than during the first five months of 2001. But permit totals in the Rocky Mountain and Pacific Coast subregions of the West fell well below year-ago totals during January-May 2002.
The number of residential units permitted for construction during the first five months of this year was greater than during the first five months of 2001 in 39 states. Among the 11 states recording over-the-year losses, the largest decreases (in percentage terms) were in Kansas (-31.3%), Nevada (-20.8%), Colorado (-11.7%), North Carolina (-10.0%), Idaho (-7.3%) and Arizona (-10.8%).
However, these losses were more than offset by double-digit, over-the-year gains recorded in 17 states, as well as increases of a smaller magnitude in 22 other states. Notable trends among relatively high-volume home building states were gains in Alabama (+22.5%), Minnesota (+17.5%), Florida (+10.9%), Oregon (+9.7%), Maryland (+9.2%) and South Carolina (+9.2%).