New-home construction in the U.S. climbed in June to the second-highest level since November 2007 as builders stepped up work on apartment projects.
Housing starts rose 9.8 percent to a 1.17 million annualized rate from a revised 1.07 million in May that was stronger than previously estimated, figures from the Commerce Department showed Friday in Washington. The median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg was a 1.11 million rate. Ground-breaking on multifamily dwellings jumped 29.4 percent.
Building permits for single and multifamily properties, a gauge of future construction, climbed to an almost eight-year high, the report showed. Steady job gains, low mortgage rates and a gradual easing of lending standards are propelling sales, indicating housing will become a bigger source of strength for the economy.
“They’re pretty positive numbers,” said Lewis Alexander, chief economist at Nomura Securities International Inc. in New York. “You’ve got decent employment growth that’s been particularly good for young people, you’ve got relatively low interest rates, somewhat easing of credit standard — all of those things are helping.”
Estimates for housing starts in the Bloomberg survey of 76 economists ranged from 1.03 million to 1.23 million. The May figure was revised up from 1.04 million.
The gain in starts of multifamily homes followed a 16.9 percent decrease the previous month and a 37.5 percent April surge. Data on these projects, which have led housing starts in recent years, can be volatile.
Starts of single-family houses eased to a 685,000 rate from 691,000 a month earlier, the report showed.
Three of four regions had a decrease in single-family construction in June, paced by a 27.3 percent drop in the Northeast and a 7.1 percent decline in West, according to the report.
Building permits increased 7.4 percent in June to a 1.34 million annualized rate, the highest since July 2007. They were projected to fall to 1.15 million.