The U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s new residential construction statistics for January show privately-owned housing starts up 14.6 percent from December’s estimates. The increase, which exceeded analysts’ expectations, was largely due to gains in multifamily construction. Single-family housing starts were flat but, according to National Association of Home Builders’ chief economist David Crowe, it’s encouraging that the category didn’t decline due to severe winter weather in much of the country. After a 16.7 percent surge in December, building permits fell 10.4 percent in January. More here and here.