NEW YORK (CNNfn) - The rate of home building took off in January, hitting its highest point in more than 10 years, the U.S. Commerce Department said Wednesday.
Housing starts -- the number of new housing units on which construction began during the month -- jumped 3.8 percent to an annual rate of 1.804 million units. This was the highest rate since December 1986, when the figure reached 1.833 million units.
The gain outpaced analysts' expectations of 1.68 million. The December figure was revised upward to a 5.1 percent rise at 1.738 million units annually.
Apartments provided the biggest boost, where starts rose 13.9 percent to 410,000. This was similar to December, when starts shot up 29 percent to 360,000 units.
Starts on single family homes rose 1.2 percent to 1.394 million in January, the highest level since February 1984. Single family home starts in December rose 0.2 percent to 1.378 million.
The South proved to be the most active place for housing starts, where they increased 22.3 percent. The West saw a 3.7 percent gain, but starts were down 25.3 percent in the Midwest and 3.2 percent in the Northeast.
The department said new applications for building permits were up 2.8 percent in January to reach 1.777 million. This follows December's 4.4 percent increase to 1.729 million.