Creeping to a million, starts increase 12.1% in December

The million-starts mark is within sight, as residential construction stands at its highest level since June 2008.

The Commerce Department’s new residential construction report released Thursday morning shows housing starts at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 954,000, up 12.1% from the revised November estimate of 851,000. 

It was the best report since June 2008, when starts were at a pace of 1.046 million.

Single-family starts also surged to 616,000, up 8.1% from November’s figure.

Building permits were also up in December. The latest data show permits were at a rate of 903,000, up slightly from November, but up 28.8% from a year ago.

With the December report also comes the construction tally for the full year. An estimated 780,000 housing units were started in 2012. That is 28.1% more than were started in 2011.

Five years of housing starts:

2012: 780,000
2011: 6