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Dec 18 -- The U.S. Census Bureau, Department of Commerce, invites comments to OMB by January 18, 2024 regarding the Survey of Housing Starts, Sales, and Completions. [Comments due 30 days after submission to OMB on December 19.]

The U. S. Census Bureau is requesting an extension of the currently approved collection for the Survey of Housing Starts, Sales, and Completions, otherwise known as the Survey of Construction (SOC). The SOC is co-sponsored by the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Government agencies and private companies use statistics from SOC to monitor and evaluate the large and dynamic housing construction industry. Data for two principal economic indicators are produced from the SOC: New Residential Construction (housing starts and housing completions) and New Residential Sales. In addition, a number of other statistical series are produced, including extensive information on the physical characteristics of new residential buildings, and indexes measuring rates of inflation in the price of new buildings. These statistics are based on a sample of residential buildings in permit-issuing places and a road canvass in a sample of land areas not covered by building permit systems.

Census Bureau field representatives (FRs) mail forms to new respondents to complete. A few days later, the FRs either call or visit the respondents to enter their survey responses into a laptop computer using Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI) software. The respondents are home builders, real estate agents, rental agents, or new homeowners of sampled residential buildings. FRs contact respondents multiple times based on the number of projects in the sample and the number of months required to complete the project.

The Census Bureau uses the information collected in the SOC to publish estimates of the number of new residential housing units started, under construction, completed, and the number of new houses sold and for sale. The Census Bureau also publishes many financial and physical characteristics of new housing units. Government agencies use these statistics to evaluate economic policy, measure progress towards the national housing goal, make policy decisions, and formulate legislation. For example, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System uses data from this survey to evaluate the effect of interest rates. The Bureau of Economic Analysis uses the data in developing the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The private sector uses the information for estimating the demand for building materials and the many products used in new housing and to schedule production, distribution, and sales efforts. The financial community uses the data to estimate the demand for short-term (construction loans) and long-term (mortgages) borrowing.

We collect data for approximately 21,363 new buildings a year. A builder or owner may be contacted several times based on how long the construction project takes. We estimate the average number of times we need to contact the builder or owner is between 7 and 8 times. The total number of responses annually is 161,412.

SOC: https://www.census.gov/construction/nrc/index.html
Census submission to OMB: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202312-0607-003 Click IC List for information collection instrument, View Supporting Statement for technical documentation. Submit comments through this webpage.
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2023-27729

For AEA members wishing to submit comments, "A Primer on How to Respond to Calls for Comment on Federal Data Collections" is available at https://www.aeaweb.org/content/file?id=5806

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