WASHINGTON (AP) - Builders started work on more homes in January, pushing construction up by the largest amount in 20 months. But the home-building industry remains far below the pace considered healthy.
Builders broke ground on new homes and apartments at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 596,000 units, a 14.6 percent jump from December.
Last year, builders worked on 587,600 new homes, just barely better than the 554,000 started in 2009. In a healthy economy, builders start about 1 million units a year. The housing industry is coming off the worst two years for home construction dating back to 1959.
Building permits fell more than 10 percent in January after code changes in California, Pennsylvania and New York caused an artificial spike the month before.