WASHINGTON -- New residential construction starts surged 15% in September to their highest annual rate in more than four years, as the housing sector continued to show signs of a burgeoning rebound.
The number of new privately owned housing units that began construction was up for the third straight month, and rose in September to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 872,000, the Commerce Department said Wednesday.
The figures surpassed economists' expectations of about a 770,000 annual rate.
September had the best monthly performance since July 2008, when housing starts were on an annual pace of 923,000. Compared with last September, new housing starts are up 34.8%, the Commerce Department said.
Last month's growth was "surprisingly strong," said David Crowe, chief economist at the National Assn. of Home Builders.
"As consumer confidence rises and jobs return, more local markets and more consumers will join the buyer market and I expect housing construction to continue a modest but fairly steady rise throughout 2013 and into 2014," Crowe wrote in a blog post.