Infographics Graphic


Latest Annual U.S. and Canadian City Housing Starts (Part 1)

0 194 Economic

by Alex Carrick

This Economy at a Glance (EAAG) will look at home starts in major U.S. and Canadian cities, according to ‘totals’ (Part 1), plus single-family (Part 2) and multi-family (Part 3) markets.
2016 02 24 Housing Graphic 1

The accompanying tables rank the dozen American and half-dozen Canadian cities by actual start levels in 2015 and year-over-year percent changes.

For both the U.S. and Canada, the cities are the broad designations (MSAs and CMAs) which include downtown cores plus all suburbs with close live-work commuting ties.

The website versions of these three articles include a wealth of graphs, since it is often true that a picture is worth a thousand words.

Nevertheless, here’s commentary on total new home groundbreakings in the 18 major cities.

In the U.S., the monster-sized market for total housing starts in 2015, at 86,400 units, was New York.

Two cities in Texas, Houston (56,900) and Dallas-Fort Worth (56,400), were in second and third places respectively, but way back.

Los Angeles (33,700) and Atlanta (30,000) placed fourth and fifth.

New York’s single-family starts declined slightly (-5.2%), but there was a tremendous surge (+109.6%) in its multi-family initiations. As a result, total starts in the Big Apple climbed to their highest level this century. They were about 20,000 units above their previous most recent peak, which occurred in 2005.

No other top-dozen American city managed to exceed its prior high-water mark of the past 15 years, but Dallas-Fort Worth and Los Angeles almost climbed back to their former pinnacles.

Houston, which performed well in 2014, had to swallow a retreat (-10.6%) last year, as the low global price for oil brought a weaker local energy-patch economy.

San Francisco and Boston almost recovered to their previous highs, but didn’t quite make it all the way.

And there were several U.S. cities with 2015 total starts that remained far under what they had achieved before.

Chicago’s total starts level last year, at 15,700 units, was less than one-third of its 2005 record of 53,900 units.

Phoenix was another city with total starts (22,900 in 2015) stuck at about only one-third of their former glory (65,300 in 2004).

While Miami’s total starts were a splendid +46.2% year over year, they were still only about half of 2004’s 46,100 units.

Atlanta (30,000 units in 2015) was similarly far removed what it managed from 2000 through 2006 (70,000 on average).

The major Canadian cities haven’t displayed anything like the similar wild swings in total starts experienced by their American cousins.

Furthermore, it’s interesting to note that five of the Canadian half-dozen cities (in Table 1) had total starts in 2015 that would have placed them above many of their U.S. counterparts. Toronto, with 42,300 units, would have ranked fourth in a combined listing.

Part 2 will proceed to the single-family market, with Part 3 concentrating on multiple-units.

Table 1: Ranking by Total Housing Starts − 2015
The Dozen Largest U.S. Cities
Units (000s)
1 New York-Newark-Jersey City (1) 86.4
2 Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land (5) 56.9
3 Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington (4) 56.4
4 Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim (2) 33.7
5 Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell (9) 30.0
6 Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach (8) 23.1
7 Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale (12) 22.9
8 Washington-Arlington-Alexandria (7) 22.8
9 Chicago-Naperville-Elgin (3) 15.7
10 Boston-Cambridge-Newton (10) 15.2
11 San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward (11) 12.8
12 Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington (6) 12.6
The Half-dozen Largest Canadian Cities
1 Toronto (1) 42.3
2 Vancouver (3) 20.9
3 Montreal (2) 18.7
4 Edmonton (5) 17.1
5 Calgary (4) 13.0
6 Ottawa-Gatineau (6) 6.6


The number in brackets after each city name is its size ranking in either the U.S. or Canada (respectively) in terms of population.
Data sources: Census Bureau and National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).
Chart: CMD.
Table 2: Ranking by % Change in Total Housing Starts
The Dozen Largest U.S. Cities
1 New York-Newark-Jersey City (1) 82.3%
2 Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach (8) 46.2%
3 Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington (4) 38.4%
4 San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward (11) 28.0%
5 Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim (2) 25.3%
6 Boston-Cambridge-Newton (10) 24.0%
7 Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell (9) 13.5%
8 Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale (12) 12.5%
9 Chicago-Naperville-Elgin (3) -0.3%
10 Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington (6) -1.1%
11 Washington-Arlington-Alexandria (7) -9.1%
12 Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land (5) -10.6%
The Half-dozen Largest Canadian Cities
1 Toronto (1) 46.2%
2 Edmonton (5) 22.9%
3 Vancouver (3) 8.6%
4 Montreal (2) 0.0%
5 Ottawa-Gatineau (6) -14.5%
6 Calgary (4) -23.9%


The number in brackets after each city name is its size ranking in either the U.S. or Canada (respectively) in terms of population.
Data sources: Census Bureau and National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).
Chart: CMD.

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