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.