WASHINGTON (AP) - Builders broke ground last month on the most new homes in six months, giving the weak housing market a slight boost.
The Commerce Department says home construction rose 7.2 percent in March from February to a seasonally adjusted 549,000 units. Building permits, an indicator of future construction, rose 11.2 percent after hitting a five-decade low in February.
Still, the building pace is far below the 1.2 million units a year that economists consider healthy. And March's improvement came after construction fell in February to its second-lowest level on records dating back more than a half-century.
New homes can spur job growth. Each new home built creates the equivalent of three jobs for a year and generates about $90,000 in taxes, according to the National Association of Home Builders.