Good news for the construction industry. According to the U.S. Commerce Department, single-family and multifamily housing starts increased by 12.1% to 954,000 units last month. This is the highest rate in more than four years. Single-family housing starts jumped by 8.1% to 616,000 units in December. Multifamily construction fared even better with an increase of 23.1% (338,000 units). In the West, single-family and multifamily housing starts increased by 18.7%. The Midwest saw the biggest gain with 24.7%, while the Northeast increased by 21.4%. The South experienced the smallest jump with only an improvement of 3.8%.
Building permits, which is an indicator of future demand, remained steady at 0.3% (903,000 units). Single-family permits rose 1.8% to a rate of 578,000 units. However, multifamily permits declined by 2.1% to a rate of 325,000 units. Regionally, permits rose 6.6% in the West and 19% in the Northeast. On the other hand, the South and Midwest posted declines of 3.4% and 5.7% respectively.