Permits for future U.S. home construction rose in October to their highest level in more than five years, the government reported Tuesday, suggesting the housing-market recovery remained intact despite recent signs of slowing, and the housing sector could help overall economic growth in the final quarter of the year.
The Commerce Department said building permits jumped 6.2 percent to an annual rate of 1.03 million units. It was the highest rate since June 2008. Permits increased 5.2 percent in September.
Permits, which lead actual housing starts by at least a month, were up 13.9 percent in October from a year earlier. The Commerce Department postponed the release of data on housing starts and completions for September and October until mid-December because the collection of information was affected by a 16-day shutdown of the federal government.
In October, nearly all the gain was for multi-family apartments, a category of residential construction that often is volatile month to month. Such permits rose 15.3 percent to an annual rate of 414,000, also the fastest since June 2008.
Permits for single-family houses, which comprise about two-thirds of the housing market, rose 0.8 percent in October to a rate of 630,000, slightly below the August pace of 627,000 that was the best since May 2008.
While permits are not counted in calculations of gross domestic product (GDP), they are a key indicator of economic activity, and the strong gains in both October and September should ease concerns the housing-market recovery was stalling.