In another sign that some indicators are revealing that the economy is turning around, housing starts increased 2.8% last month, a welcome reversal following a 4% decline in December, according to a report issued today by the Commerce Department and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
January's housing starts were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 591,000, compared to the revised estimate of 575,000 in December. Last month's figures were 21% higher than in January 2009.
Single-family housing starts rose 1.5% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 484,000. Single-family housing completions fell 12.9% to 427,000.
Building permits for privately-owned housing fell 4.9% from December's level to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 621,000. That is a 16.9% increase from January 2009.
Housing starts increased from their December levels in the Northeast, South and West by 10%, 1% and 8.9%, respectively. They declined in the Midwest by 3.2%.
Compared to January 2009, housing starts increased in the Northeast, Midwest and South by 73.7%, 56.9% and 22.8%, respectively. They declined in the West by 11.6%.