Starts jump in August

According to data released Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Commerce, the seasonally adjusted annual rate of total housing starts for August stood at 598,000, up 10.5% from the downwardly revised July estimate and 2.2% above the August 2009 rate of 585,000.

Single-family housing starts increased to a rate of 438,000 for August, 4.3% above the revised July rate of 420,000, but 9.1% below the August 2009 rate of 482,000.

Despite the growth, the numbers continue to reflect a struggling market in residential construction. On an unadjusted basis, the Commerce Department's estimate for single-family housing starts in August was 39,700 -- the lowest August figure on record dating back to 1959.

Regionally, the Northeast saw a month-over-month total housing start decrease of 24.5% in August, with a 28% decrease in single-family starts. Compared with last year, August saw a 21.1% total starts decrease, with single-family starts declining 21.7%.

The Midwest saw a month-over-month total housing start increase of 21.7% in August, with an18.9% increase in single-family starts. Compared with last year, August saw a 5.7% increase for total starts, and single-family starts increased 2.3% from August 2009.

In the South, total housing starts saw a month-over-month increase of 7.0% in August, with a 0.5% increase in single-family starts. August saw a 2.8% total starts increase from August 2009, while single-family starts declined 6.3%.

In the West, total housing starts increased 34.3% in August, with single-family starts increasing by 22.7%. August saw an 11.0% total starts increase from August 2009, while single-housing starts declined 18.6%.

Building permits increased 1.8% in August to 569,000 from the revised July rate of 559,000, and is 6.7% below August 2009 levels.

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