In April 2009, housing starts hit a low of 478,000, two months before the recession ended.
Single-family home construction ticked down slightly by 0.2 percent to an annual rate of 594,000 last month after hitting a four-year high in September.
Applications for building permits, an indicator of future building, were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 866,000, 2.7 percent below the revised September rate of 890,000, a four-year high.
Permits are 29.8 percent above the October 2011 estimate of 667,000.
Single-family permits rose 2.2 percent, the best showing since July 2008.
Construction on multi-family units such as apartments were up 10 percent to an annual rate of 285,000.
After years of struggling, the housing market is finally showing across-the-board improvement.
Builder sentiment hit a six-year high in November, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index released Monday.
In a separate report, sales of previously occupied homes rose 2.1 percent to 4.79 million in October, the National Association of Realtors said.