Monthly housing starts for June rose above the 600,000 mark for the first time since January, according to data released today by the Commerce Department.
Housing starts increased to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 629,000 in June, up 14.6% from the revised May estimate of 549,000. Single-family starts also showed a big improvement -- up 9.4% to a rate of 453,000.
The 629,000 annual rate came in much higher than anticipated by most forecasts, which had called for a rate of about 570,000.
The June figures were heading in the right direction on a year-over-year basis, also. Total housing starts were up 16.7% over June 2010, and single-family starts were up a slight 0.4% compared with a year ago.
Looking at the four regions of the country, single-family construction showed the biggest growth in the Midwest, where starts increased more than 20% compared with last year and last month. The Northeast in June posted a 35.1% increase in total housing starts, compared with May.
Building permits in June were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 624,000, up 2.5% from May, and up 6.7% compared with June 2010.