Housing starts across the country were up almost 35 percent during February, a reflection of strong demand for rental apartments, according to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Starts, which measure actual construction activity, remained stood at  717,000 units during the month, but were down slightly from January mostly because of a 9.9 percent decline in single-family starts. The decline in single-family starts was somewhat surprising given that they'd risen for four consecutive months leading up to the report.

The report was largely seen as a postive sign that the construction industry is continuing to emerge from what has been the longest downturn since the Great Depression. Those January starts were the highest since October 2008. Building confidence has remained stable, too, after reach the highest level since June 2007.

The Department doesn't report data at the state level, but said that starts were up in the Midwest and South, but were down in the West and Northeast.

Stay tuned for more details.


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Three reports provide evidence that the local and national housing markets improved during February