Housing starts increased 1.4% in December 2021 to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.702 million units, according to cnbc.com. Economists expected starts to fall to a rate of 1.650 million units.
Housing starts were up 2.5% compared with December 2020. Applications for building permits, a good indication of future activity, rose 9.1% to 1.873 million units in December 2021.
Single-family housing starts were down 2.3% at 1.172 million units, and the rate for multifamily starts was up 13.7 % at 524,000 units.
According to the National Association of Homebuilders, the aggregate cost of residential construction materials increased almost 19% since December 2021. NAHB said higher material costs and shortages were adding weeks to typical single-family home construction times.