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Building Permits

Data Series Description

Building permit data published on this page is from the U.S. Census Bureau Building Permits Survey (BPS). It is the complete national dataset dating back to 1980 depending on the data history available for areas.

The purpose of the Building Permits Survey is to provide national, state, and local statistics on new privately-owned residential construction. The United States Code, Title 13, authorizes this survey, provides for voluntary responses, and provides an exception to confidentiality for public records.

The Center publishes data from the Cumulative monthly tabulation published by the Census Bureau on the 17th Workday of each month.

The Census Bureau tabulates monthly data for the current month, cumulative monthly, and for the year to date. Cumulative and year-to-date data include any late reports received or corrections made to reports from prior months in the year. Because the cumulative and year-to-date estimates include corrections not reflected in the monthly data, summing the published monthly data will not generate the published cumulative or year-to-date estimate. Cumulative files show all months of the calendar year for each permit office. Prior months of the year are shown with the latest data available (late reports and corrections modify previous data). The annual cumulative file contains the latest monthly data for each permit office at the time final annual estimates are released for the year. Prior to January 2022, monthly and year-to-date estimates for state and higher aggregates were sample-based estimates that represent the entire geographic area. Estimates below the state level were a simple tally of sampled jurisdictions and therefore not necessarily complete if the sample did not include all jurisdictions within the sub-state geography.

Beginning in January 2022, all aggregates include data on all places in the current universe. Data on places not included in the monthly survey is imputed.

Annual data are obtained by summing monthly data for places in the monthly sample and using annual data for annual reporters or places in the monthly sample that provided only annual totals. If both monthly and annual data exist, the annual data are used. If no annual data are received, but there were some months reported, the sum of the monthly reported and imputed data is used rather than the imputed annual data. Similar to the monthly data, annual data are tabulated from the entire universe of building permit offices. Monthly data are not revised except for the highest aggregates (U.S. and Census Regions) after annual processing. Monthly estimates of housing units authorized for the U.S. and Census Regions are revised using a benchmark process to sum to the final annual totals.

Geographic Definitions

Metropolitan/Micropolitan areas are constructed from constituent counties as delineated by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in 2020. Delineation files can be found at

The Building Permits Survey covers all “permit-issuing places,” which are jurisdictions that issue building or zoning permits. Zoning permits are used only for areas that do not require building permits but require zoning permits. Areas for which no authorization is required to construct a new privately-owned housing unit are not included in the survey.

The new Advanced City Search feature in the Building Permits page enables users to drill down below county level permits to see permit counts for permit-issuing places in the Survey. The custom query builder can be used to construct custom queries for searching and exporting permit data.

Getting More Detail

More detail about the Building Permits Survey can be viewed at

A description of how the Census Bureau collects permit data can be viewed at

Report Release Dates

Data is published within two days of when the Census Bureau publishes Revised Building Permits. The release schedule can be found at

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