Construction of new residential buildings saw a sharp increase in December, driven largely by work begun on new apartments.
The Commerce Department reported that builders started on new housing at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 954,000 units, up 12.1% from November and up 36.9% from December 2011.Although construction became a part of the housing recovery last year, it hasn’t made a significant contribution to the hiring picture, Jed Kolko, chief economist for real estate website Trulia.com, wrote in an e-mailed analysis.
“The construction rebound hasn’t created new construction jobs,” Kolko wrote. “In 2012 builders bet on local markets with strong job growth and low vacancy rates, not markets experiencing a big price bounce-back.”
Builders began work on 780,000 homes last year -- up 28.1% from 2011, when new home construction hit a record low, and the most since 2008. But the number of starts last year was still sluggish compared with historical standards, economists noted.