Housing starts increase to five-month high

While housing starts are up 28 percent from their low in April 2009, they are down 73 percent from their peak in January 2006. Market analysts say a 1 million annual rate reflects a healthy housing market.

Building permits issued to construct new homes, a sign of future activity, drooped 5.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 539,000, the lowest level since April 2009, behind a 20 percent drop in condominiums and apartments. Permits for single-family homes rose 0.5 percent. 

Mortgage rates have hit record lows but construction and home buying has been stymied by high unemployment and a lack of job creation. 

A boost in homebuilding would provide job growth in the construction industry, which took a huge hit during the recession. Each new home creates the equivalent of three jobs for a year, generating $90,000 in taxes, according to NAHB.