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Home Construction Rose In November; 2011 Still A Weak Year

There was a 9.3 percent rise in "housing starts" last month vs. October, the Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development just reported.

"Single-family housing starts in November were at a rate of 447,000," the agencies say. "This is 2.3 percent above the revised October figure of 437,000." The really big increase was in construction of buildings with five or more living units. Starts in that category were up 32.2 percent.

But as The Associated Press says, "2011 is still shaping up to be one of the worst years in history for homebuilders. ... Overall, homebuilding dipped in 2009 to just 554,000 homes, the lowest levels in 50 years. Last year the figure rose to roughly 587,000 homes."

In November, the annualized rate for all types of housing starts was 685,000. "That's far below the 1.2 million homes that economists say would be built each year in a healthy housing market," AP adds.

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.