US housing starts rebound in February

New construction of large multifamily housing units soared 80 percent in February, according to a new report.

Charles Rex Arbogast/AP
Workers put up multifamily housing in Chicago. The US saw new home construction rebound 22 percent in February because of an unexpected surge in multifamily housing.

Housing starts rebounded unexpectedly in February, posting a dramatic 22 percent jump above the previous month to reach a seasonally adjusted 583,000, according to a new report by the Commerce Department released Tuesday.

The seasonally adjusted uptick in housing starts was particularly strong for large multifamily units, which soared 79.7 percent, while single-family homes only climbed 1.1 percent above January's record low.

Rebound in Northeast

Overall, housing in the Northeast saw the biggest bounce with a whopping 88.6 percent rise. Single-family homes rose 54.2 percent.

The Midwest and South also saw big rebounds with growth of 58.5 percent and 30.2 percent, respectively. Only the West saw a decline, with 24.6 percent fewer housing starts than in January.

Analysts surprised
The rebound was a surprise to many analysts who had expected housing starts to extend their seven-month slide. Nevertheless, February's total was 47.3 percent lower than the February 2008 total.

It's one sign that the economic downturn may be reaching a bottom. For other signs that the contraction is easing, click here.

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