Strength in home building has been one of the bright spots for the economy this year. But overall construction is still being offset by weakness in commercial real estate and tight state and local government budgets.
Sales of new homes rose 4.4 percent in November to the highest annual pace in two and a half years. New-home sales are more than 15 percent higher than a year ago.
From July through September, residential construction grew at an annual rate of 13.5 percent. Housing construction is on track to contribute to economic growth this year, the first time that has happened in the five years since the housing bubble burst.
Though new homes represent only a fraction of the housing market, they have an out-size impact on the economy. Each home built creates an average of three jobs for a year and generates about $90,000 in tax revenue, according to statistics from the National Association of Home Builders.
Builders are increasingly confident that the housing recovery will endure. A measure of their confidence rose in November to the highest level in 6 1/2 years.