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Originally published Tuesday, November 26, 2013 at 4:34 PM

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Building permits for houses, apartments hit 5-year high

The 1 million permits issued in October are a good barometer of the overall state of residential construction, which has been strong over the past year.

Los Angeles Times

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The number of U.S. residential building permits issued in October surpassed 1 million, the highest level in five years, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday.

Building permits in October were up 6.2 percent from September, reaching 1,034,000, government figures show. That’s up 13.9 percent from October 2012.

Data for the number of housing starts were not included with the report because of the partial government shutdown last month. The release of those figures has been pushed to Dec. 18.

Nonetheless, the building-permits data are a good barometer of the state of residential construction, which has been strong over the past year.

Single-family-home permits slowed to 620,000, the report said. Meanwhile, multifamily-housing permits jumped 15.3 percent in October from the month before, reaching 414,000.

The housing recovery in recent months has boosted home prices, spurred new construction and generated consumer spending at hardware stores such as Home Depot and Lowe’s.

But the pace appears to be slowing, economists said.

“This was a mixed report,” economists from IHS Global Insight wrote in a note. “Despite strong October numbers, a three-month moving average of both single- and multifamily permits shows that construction is slowing.”

But Patrick Newport and Stephanie Karol, the IHS economists, said it’s unclear why housing permits have slowed recently. In a note, they said it’s possible that a lack of developed land to build on is delaying the housing recovery.

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