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Signs Of Strength In Latest Housing Data

San Mateo, Calif.: Construction was underway earlier this year at a new housing development.
Justin Sullivan
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Getty Images
San Mateo, Calif.: Construction was underway earlier this year at a new housing development.

There was a 7.9 percent jump in the number of construction permits issued to home builders in May, the Census Bureau says.

That increase boosted permits to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 780,000 — the most since September 2008, The Associated Press adds. It's a signal that construction will be strong in coming months.

And there's another sign in the Census report that the housing sector may have picked up some strength: There was a 3.2 percent rise in the number of single-family home "starts" last month. Census says construction began on 516,000 such homes (that's another "seasonally adjusted annual rate").

The increase in construction of single-family homes wasn't enough to keep all types of housing starts on the rise, however. A 24.2 percent plunge in the volatile apartments sector pulled starts down overall by 4.8 percent.

Still, as Ameriprise Financial senior economist Russell Price tells Bloomberg News, the report "was a lot better than the headline number [overall starts] would suggest."

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.