April 20, 2011
Construction market shows improvement
After hitting record lows in February, the Commerce Department says home construction figures rebounded in March.
According to the report, housing starts nationwide jumped 7.2 percent compared to the previous month to an annual rate of 549,000.
Building permits, which reflect future construction, also jumped sharply, increasing 11.2 percent to a rate of 594,000. Permits increased in three of the four census regions over the month, with the Northeast - where they were unchanged - being the only region not to show gains.
Builders said while there are still significant issues with the housing market, they are still mildly optimistic.
"This latest report is encouraging," said Bob Nielsen, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders. "It means that some builders are cautiously beginning to re-stock their extremely thin inventories of new homes in anticipation of gradual improvement in consumer demand as the economy slowly inches toward recovery."
The improvement in permits also came just one day after an NAHB report that showed builders' confidence had slipped in April, dipping from 17 to 16 on a 100-point scale.