• This chart tracks housing starts since 2002. Housing starts remain over 70% percent below the peak set in early 2006.

    Credit: The Christian Science Monitor - SoldAtTheTop

    This chart tracks housing starts since 2002. Housing starts remain over 70% percent below the peak set in early 2006.

The Commerce Department reported today that residential housing starts increased 2.3 percent in August to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 750,000 units. This is over 29% above the August 2011 rate of 581,000. Single family starts, the largest segment, increased 5.5% to a 535,000 annual rate — the highest level since April 2010.

Housing starts are still a sobering 70% below the 2.27 million unit rate peak in January 2006.

NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe commented, "The pace of overall housing production has been edging gradually upward all year as consumers become more confident in their local housing markets, and the latest data are further evidence that the housing recovery is here to stay".

In another report today, builder confidence in the single family home market rose for a fifth consecutive month. The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index is at a level of 40 — the highest reading since June of 2006.

CNBC claims that for the first time since 2005, home construction is expected to add to gross domestic product growth this year. Residential housing accounts for only about 2.5 percent of GDP, however it is reported to be a powerful job growth driver. For every new house built, economists estimate that at least three new jobs are created.