Numbers show mixed results for those who use construction equipment

Though housing starts were down, building permits did go up.
Though housing starts were down, building permits did go up.
Though builder confidence may be low, recent numbers from the government could give those who use construction equipment some reason to be happy.

In an indication of future construction potential, the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development reported that building permits for privately owned housing units increased 10.9 percent in December. At an annually adjusted rate, housing permits were reported at 653,000, compared to the 589,000 reported in November.

On a year-to-year comparison, December 2009 came in 15.8 percent higher than during the same month in 2008.

Furthermore, authorizations for single-family homes increased in December to an annual rate of 508,000, which was 8.3 percent above November's result.

However, overall housing starts, along with starts for single-family homes, dropped in December. Single-family starts fell 6.9 percent, while overall housing starts dropped 4 percent. For the year there were an estimated 553,800 housing starts, which is 38.8 percent lower than the figure reported for 2008.

"Despite the mixed performance at year-end, conditions remain favorable for growth in the coming months," Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said.

A recent report from the National Association of Home Builders shows that confidence among builders fell in January. Meanwhile, foreclosures in 2009 were up by 21 percent, which could make the market for new homes fall.