Housing starts are up, and so are jobs. According to Bloomberg.com, December housing starts rose by 12.1 percent to an annualized rate of 954,000, the highest since 2008. During 2012, construction began on 780,000 houses, up from 608,800 in 2011. While short of the average 1.74 million per year starts during from the period 2000 to 2004, last year’s numbers are encouraging for the residential real estate market and the U.S. economy.
Regional housing starts were strong. The Midwest experienced the biggest boost with a 24.7 percent increase. Single-family house construction rose 8.1 percent in December from November 2012, and multi-family residence construction increased by 20.3 percent.
Overall unemployment held steady at 7.8 percent in December. Additionally, 37,000 fewer Americans applied for benefits in the week ending January 12, marking the lowest point since January 2008 and the biggest weekly drop since February 2010, reports Reuters. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, non-farm payroll employment went up by 155,000 in December. Health care, food services, construction, and manufacturing added the majority of those jobs.
The increase in housing starts may further spur an economic growth. “Housing clearly continues to be one of the bright spots in an otherwise gloomy and sluggish economic-growth story,” said Anika Khan, a senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities LLC in Charlotte, North Carolina.