U.S. permits for residential buildings by select metro area 2018

Residential building permits in United States were in short demand in 2018, rising only 2.8 percent across the country. Many large cities have reduced the number of residential building permits, such as Chicago, which handed out 22 percent less permits in 2018 than the previous year. Building permits may specifically apply to large housing units with multiple living spaces, to single family houses. Before construction can begin on any new or existing building, a permit must be obtained from the appropriate city council. Building permit numbers have increased significantly in both Houston, Texas and Orlando, Florida metro areas, with 34.5 and 51.5 percent more permits issued in 2018 than 2017, respectively.

Homes are where the heat is

Generally speaking, the construction of new homes can be a good indicator of how local economies are fairing, as it can mean that individuals have acquired enough wealth to own their own home or businesses are expanding. The 2018 residential building permit figures provide some insight into the current demographic of cities, particularly with regards to the job market. For instance, in the „snowbird“state of Florida, 45 percent of new residents in Orlando were between ages 25 and 54, and presumably their careers still play a large role. Orlando-Kissimmee-Sandford metro area is within close range of engineering firms such as Lockheed Martin, as well as new tech companies, which offer higher salaries and better prospects than other industries. Florida unemployment continues to decline and dropped to 3.6 percent in 2018.

Incidentally, cities that tend to be popular for Americans in their early twenties, tend to be the cities that are reducing their number of new residential building permits (Chicago, Illinois; New York, New York; and Los Angeles, California). But this does not mean that these cities are in financial trouble. Chicago’s GDP is steadily growing and unemployment in Illinois was at 4.3 percent in 2018. Bigger and denser cities tend to attract younger groups as they can walk from location to location and remain amongst the excitement that cities have to offer.

Number of residential building permits in the United States in 2018, by select metro area

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Release date

July 2019


United States

Survey time period


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