The national residential construction data is starting to come in, and the preliminary data for building permits shows a steady if unspectacular +3.1% increase for total U.S. single-family permits in 2019, up 41,520 permits from 2018 to 1,370,347 permits.
That does sound like a healthy number, and there’s a whole lot of electrical equipment that will go in those homes, when your figure each will need a load center, more than a dozen circuit breakers, several hundred feet of building wire and a few dozen lighting fixtures and receptacles, as well as service-entrance equipment. Add it all up and the residential market (single-family and multi-family) usually accounts for at least 15% of all products sold through electrical distributors, according to Electrical Wholesaling data.
Building permits are a reliable leading indicator of future construction activity, because builders don’t pay for them unless they are serious about building new homes. But as is so often case with the construction market, the single-family construction market is quite consolidated, with a handful of metros accounting for the lion’s share of the total business. Consider that the 50 metros with the biggest increases in single-family building permits in 2019 (see chart on page 2) accounted for 19% of the year’s total increase from 2018 to 2019, and the 10 largest markets accounted for 8% of the total.
If you do business in the following five metros, you can expect to have a busy residential market, because over the past 12 months, builders in these metros pulled at least 1,000 more single family permits in 2019 than they did in 2018; Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler, AZ; Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown, TX; Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL; San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX; and Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, TN.
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