WASHINGTON – Housing continues to be the strong factor that’s bolstering the U.S. economy. A report released by the Commerce Department on January 21 showed construction rates for new homes and apartments in 2003 peaked in December, closing out the best year for housing since 1978. The Commerce Department said December housing starts rose 1.7% to a seasonally adjusted 2.088 million annual rate, the fastest pace since February 1984. For all of 2003, the total number of housing units that builders broke ground on was 1.85 million, up from 1.70 in 2002. The record for housing starts was set in 1972 when they totaled 2.357 million, according to the Commerce Department.

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