Jan. 17 (UPI) -- Housing starts in the United States surged to a 13-year high last month, government figures showed Friday.
The Commerce Department said December saw about a 17 percent increase in new home construction, to a 1.6 million annualized rate.
The figure was a substantial improvement over the revised November rate of 1.4 million, and 41 percent higher than it was in December 2018.
The U.S. housing market hasn't seen such a level for new construction since 2006.
December's rate, which easily beat economists' expectations, was also the greatest month-to-month improvement in three years.
The department said building permits, however, declined in December. An indicator of future construction, the number of permits fell nearly 4 percent last month but were still almost 6 percent higher than they were a year ago.
The strong U.S. housing market is also reflected in the rental sector.