Housing starts improve in August

Government data released Wednesday morning show residential construction climbing slowly out of an historically deep hole. 

Housing starts increased in August to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 750,000 -- that’s up 2.3% from the July rate and up 29.1% from the August 2011 rate. 

While building permits declined to a rate of 803,000 in August, down from 811,000 in July, the forward-looking statistic increased 24.5% from the August 2011 building permit figure of 645,000. 

Also gaining are single-family starts, the bread and butter of many home channel companies. Single-family starts increased in August to a rate of 535,000, up 5.5% from the previous month and up 26.8% from the year-ago rate. 

To put the numbers in an historical context, a full year with 750,000 starts would be the fourth lowest year since the government began keeping track of the statistic in 1959. However, an end-of-year figure of 750,000 would be an increase of 39%, 28% and 23% when compared with the years 2009, 2010 and 2011.