Here’s another look at the federal government’s housing data. From 1959-2010, the United States build 1.5 million new units in an average year. The three largest downward deviations ever happened in 2008, 2009, and 2010 and they’ll be joined by 2011 when this year’s data is done:
My point isn’t that we should be having a huge construction right now. Rather, my point is that it would be standard for us to be having an approximately average year for new starts. But an average year for new starts would constitute a big uptick in activity from where we’ve been for the past four years. What’s more, this is a very long-term average and the total population is much higher in 2011 than it was in 1959, so really new starts should be biased toward above average levels.