January housing starts jump

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New housing starts rose 21 percent in January from a year ago, the Census Bureau said today, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 591,000.

That’s up from a record low pace of 479,000 units per year seen in April, but still well off the 1 million to 2 million-a-year range that’s been the norm for five decades. During the last boom, housing starts peaked at 2.07 million in 2005.

Single-family home starts were up 36 percent from a year ago, to a seasonally adjusted rate of 484,000 per year.