Housing starts for June reached a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 746,000, which is 21.5 percent above the 614,000 starts in June 2011.
In July, project permits issued -- representing construction starts one and two months down the road -- rose by 6.8 percent month-to-month.
At a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 812,000, permits issued came in 29.5 percent higher than the same month of 2011, when permits issued came to 627,000.
The department said 668,000 privately owned housing construction projects were completed in July on a seasonally adjusted annual basis.
There were 5.9 percent more completions in the month than in June, where a revised estimate put completions at 624,000. The number of completed projects in the month came in 5.4 percent higher than July 2011 when an estimated 634,000 projects were completed, the department said.