New residential construction rises sharply in the U.S.

December 20, 2011 10:14AM

New residential construction surged nationwide November to its highest level of the year, and more building permits were issued than in any other month in 2011, according to a report released today by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Housing starts in November stood at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 685,000, 9.3 percent above October’s estimate and a 24.3 percent increase over November 2010. The uptick was most profound in structures with five or more units, as that market segment gained 32.2 percent month-over-month and 180.5 percent year-over-year.

New building permits also made significant gains, rising 5.7 percent from the previous month, and 20.7 percent over the last 12 months.

The two figures combine to send positive signals to homebuilders, who have suffered through several years of stagnant housing growth. However, even with the large increases, November’s seasonally adjusted annual figures still sit well below the 1.2 million new homes that economists say would be built in a healthy housing market.

Meanwhile, housing completions fell in November, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 542,000. That is 5.6 percent below October’s estimate and 1.6 percent less than the figure recorded in November 2010. — Adam Fusfeld