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New Home Construction Up Slightly in January

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- In another encouraging sign for the economy, construction of new homes increased modestly last month, up 1.5 percent to an annual rate of 699,000, according to data released Thursday by the U.S. Commerce Department.

“This is a good report,” David Crowe, chief economist at the National Association of Home Builders, told ABC News. “We're approaching 700,000 housing units per year.  That's something we haven't seen for several years.”

Crowe said January’s numbers are in line with December’s revised figures. “There was a broad-based improvement if you take both of the months together. And I think that's basically due to continued improvement in consumer attitude towards the future economy and in employment,” Crowe said.

And the jobs market continues to show signs of improvement. A separate government report issued Thursday showed claims for unemployment benefits are at their lowest level in almost four years.

“This is indicative of what we're going to see in 2012,” Crowe said, “which is a slow recovery.  This isn't going to be a fast or quick or igniting housing recovery.”

Warmer weather during the month of January may have contributed to the slight rise in new home construction, Bloomberg News reported.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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