Housing and Construction Data from the Census Bureau

Housing and Construction Data from
the Census Bureau
McCormick SRI: Going Deep with Census Demographic
and Economic Data
Dr. Arthur R Cresce
Assistant Division Chief for Housing Characteristics
U.S. Census Bureau
Goals of Presentation
Key sources of housing data we produce
Kinds of data these sources produce
Strengths and limitations of these sources
Some ideas for stories
How to access these data
Key Points to Keep in Mind Using Census Data
Tradeoffs among:
• Geographic detail
• Characteristic detail
• Frequency of data collection
Key Sources of Housing Data
• American Housing Survey
• 2010 Census and the American Community
• “Other” sources of data on housing
• Construction Statistics Program
About the American Housing Survey
Inception of the AHS
• A 1968 Presidential Commission on Housing
found that there was not enough information on
the dynamics and condition of the housing stock,
especially between censuses
• In 1971 Congress authorized the AHS
1973 - first National AHS
- 1974 - first Metro AHS
• Sponsored by the Department of Housing and
Urban Development (HUD)
AHS Today
• National survey currently conducted every
two years
• Largest regular national housing survey in the
United States
- National sample - about 50,000 households with
new construction added each survey year
• Selected metropolitan areas surveyed every 4
to 6 years - almost 50 metro in sample at
some time over last 30 years
Neighborhood quality,
Neighborhood problems,
Crime, Litter, Pollution,
Internal and External Building
Household education, income
and race/ethnicity
Just some subject areas
Mortgage financing,
Rent controls &
Rent subsidies
Utilities and energy usage
The homes people left, and
why they moved here
Inventory composition,
Units in structure,
Square footage
Residential alterations and
home repairs
Another Unique Feature of the AHS
The AHS has had the same panel in sample
since 1985.
This allows researchers to track the same
housing unit over an almost 30 year span.
Housing Characteristics in the
American Community Survey (ACS)
Type of unit
Tenure (own or rent)
Age of structure
Number of rooms
Housing Value
Taxes & Insurance
Mortgage/Monthly Rent
Housing Characteristics in Census 2010
• Occupancy Status
• Vacancy Status
• Housing tenure (rented,
Strengths and Limitations: 2010-ACS-AHS
Census 2010
Minimal housing
characteristics – totals,
occupancy status, housing
tenure, vacancy status
Basic housing characteristics
covering a range of housing
Very detailed housing
characteristics, including
characteristics of
Very detailed geography –
down to the block level
1-year - areas 65K or more
3-year - areas of 20K or more
5-year – down to block group
National, regional, and some
metro areas
Counts and characteristics
obtained at one point in
Surveys units over a 12month period
Survey provides information
for a point in time and also
Data collected and released
once every 10 years
Data collected and released
every year
Data collected and released
every 2 years (national) and
4-6 years (specific metros)
“Other” Sources of Housing Data
• Housing Vacancy Survey (Current Population
• Survey of Market Absorption (SOMA)
• New York City Housing and Vacancy Survey
• Rental Housing Finance Survey
• Survey of Income and Program Participation
• Population Division Estimates Program
Ideas for News Stories
About Housing Data
• Availability and affordability of housing
• Quality of housing and neighborhoods
• Characteristics of the home and how it may be
changing over time
• Amenities in the home and in the community
• Types of mortgages used to finance homes
2008 ACS – Single Year Data – National Level
2009 ACS – Single Year Data – National Level
The Census Bureau’s
Manufacturing and Construction Division
Produces a Variety of Statistics
on Residential Construction
Residential building permits
Housing starts and completions
New home sales
Characteristics of new housing
Construction spending
Manufactured home placements
Two Surveys are Used to Measure New
Residential Construction and Sales
• Building Permits Survey (BPS)
 Voluntary monthly and annual mail surveys of the 20,000 local
permit-issuing jurisdictions in the U.S. (Internet reporting available this summer)
 Tracks the number of new privately-owned structures authorized
by building or zoning permits
• Survey of Construction (SOC)
 Voluntary monthly telephone/personal interview survey of
builders/owners of selected buildings (about 1 in 50 new units are sampled)
Provides data on housing starts, housing completions, new home sales,
prices, and characteristics of new housing units
New Residential Construction
• Monthly Principal Economic Indicator Release
• Data for All Units and Single-family Units
• Usually released on the 12th working day of the month
at 8:30am ET
• Available at www.census.gov/starts
•Monthly seasonally adjusted data on Permits,
Starts, Completions, and Units under Construction
• Annual revisions with April release each May
• Historic data available
New Residential Construction Strengths (Building Permits)
• Are a component of the Conference Board’s U.S.
Leading Economic Index, and are a leading
construction indicator
• Are public records and provide timely local data:
 Data are released on the 18th workday of the
following month for States, Metro Areas,
counties, and local jurisdictions
 Have a large monthly sample, and annual data
for all 20,000 jurisdictions are released each
year on May 1st
New Residential Construction Strengths (Survey of Construction)
• Includes areas where permits are not required
• Response rates are high because field enumerators
collect data by observation
• Provides detailed annual data on characteristics of
new housing – released each year on June 1st
New Residential Construction –
• Data other than permits are available only for the 4 Census
• Confidence intervals for data other than permits are very
large due to the small SOC sample size
• Estimates for multifamily units often show large month-tomonth fluctuations because all units in the building are
counted together:
 as authorized when the permit is issued
 as started when excavation begins for the foundation
 as completed when half are ready for occupancy
• Single-family houses are considered completed when the
finished flooring has been installed
New Residential Sales
• Monthly Principal Economic Indicator Release
• Commonly called “New Home Sales”
• Usually released on the 17th working day of the
month at 10:00am ET
• Available at www.census.gov/newhomesales
• Monthly seasonally adjusted data on New Houses
Sold and For Sale
• Median and Average Sales Prices of New Houses Sold
• Annual revisions with April release each May
• Data available back to 1963
New Residential Sales Strengths
• Only source of national data on sales of new homes
• Based on contract signings, not closings, to provide a
leading indicator
 Data on sales of existing homes, from the National
Association of Realtors (www.realtor.org) are not
directly comparable because they measure closings
• Response rates are high because field enumerators collect
data by observation if the respondent does not participate
• Price indexes of new houses sold and under construction
measure inflation in home prices
New Residential Sales –
• Data available only for the 4 Census Regions
• Confidence intervals are very large due to the small SOC
sample size
• Includes only homes where the house and land are sold
as a package
• Includes only single-family homes and townhouses, not
condominium units
• Does not capture sales cancellations
• Larger revisions due to high initial imputation for houses
where contracts are signed before thepermit is issued
and sampled
Many Sources are Used to Measure
Total Construction Spending
• Construction Progress Reporting Surveys (CPRS)
 Mail surveys of owners of sampled construction projects
 Data collected on:
 Privately-owned nonresidential construction projects
 Privately-owned multifamily residential buildings
 State and local construction projects (highways, schools, etc.)
 Federal construction projects (military bases, public housing, etc.)
• Examples of Other Sources of Data:
 Data for new single-family housing are derived from the SOC
 Data on residential remodeling are collected in the
Census Bureau’s Consumer Expenditures Survey
 Data on railroad construction are provided by the Surface Transportation Board
 Data on cable television construction are from industry trade association
Construction Spending
• Monthly Principal Economic Indicator Release
• Commonly called “Value of Construction Put in Place (VIP)”
• Usually released on the 1st working day of the month
at 10:00am ET
• Available at www.census.gov/constructionspending
• Data available by type of construction
• Monthly seasonally adjusted data available
•Annual revisions with May release each July
• Data available back to 1964
Construction SpendingStrengths
• Estimates the total amount of money spent on
allconstruction in the United States
• Feeds directly into the Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
• Total dollar value of all construction work:
 Residential and nonresidential
 Buildings and non-building projects
Privately-financed construction
Publicly-financed construction (Federal, state and local)
 New construction
 Improvements, additions, and alterations
• Includes work in progress – not just completed projects
Construction Spending–
• Data available for the U.S. total only
• Series for some types of construction have breaks when
new classifications were introduced in 1993
• Monthly data on residential remodeling are forecast
because the Consumer Expenditure Survey is quarterly, and
are subject to larger revisions than other series
• Remodeling data include only owner-occupied properties
and exclude remodeling funded by insurance claims
Manufactured Home Placements
The Manufactured Housing Survey (MHS) collects data on new
manufactured (mobile) homes, which are not included in the
other construction data series:
• Measures the number of manufactured homes placed on sites for
residential use and in dealers’ inventories
• Includes homes inspected at the factory by the Department of Housing
and Urban Development (“HUD-code homes”)
• A monthly voluntary phone survey of individual units shipped to
dealers sampled from the factory inspection reports
• Gathers data on prices and characteristics
• Data available for the U.S. and the 4 Census Regions
• Monthly data available seasonally adjusted
• Available at www.census.gov/const/www/mhsindex.html
Ideas for News Stories
About Construction Data
• News stories tend to overstate the significance ofthe change
in the latest monthly estimate, which is often not
statistically significant
 A better story would look at trends over several months
• The press may overstate the impact of weather on the
numbers; bad weather rarely affects an entire region
 Use local building permit data to provide a local angle
• The impact of government stimulus programs or budget
cuts can be seen in data on public construction spending
For More Details on
Census Bureau Housing and
Construction Data:
Census Bureau Public Information Office