Housing starts rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 699,000, compared with a upwardly revised figure for December of 689,000.
The rate of privately owned housing starts in the month was 9.9 percent above January 2011, when there were 568,000 housing starts posted in the month.
Permits issued for privately owned housing units rose 0.7 percent month to month to an annual rate of 676,000. A year earlier in December, the annual rate stood at 568,000 permits. The new rate is a 19 percent climb over the rate 12 months prior.
Permits issued are an indicator of what direction construction starts might take one or two months down the road.
Completed housing projects in January were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 530,000, which is 12 percent below the revised figure for December of 602,000 units and 4.1 percent above January 2011, when 509,000 housing completions were posted.