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Construction numbers show slow sales, but stronger future demand

Housing construction is down, but forward-looking measures are trending up.

Housing construction is down, but forward-looking measures are trending up.

Recently released data from the Commerce Department shows that while construction numbers may have sagged in October, more families may be moving into new homes in the coming months.

According to the report, housing starts for single-family homes dropped 1.1 percent in October compared to the previous month. But at the same time, building permits - which looks at future demand - increased by 1 percent over the same period, the first increase since March.

"While recent months have shown increases in housing activity, today's data reminds us that employment and incomes must continue to strengthen before the housing market is likely to show sustainable growth," said Commerce secretary Gary Locke following the release Wednesday.

The greatest future demand for new homes was seen in the Midwest, where permits jumped by more than 14 percent. By contrast, moving activity could remain depressed in the South and West, which experienced declines in building permits during the month.

However, so far the jobs market has failed to gain steam. The Labor Department says that initial unemployment claims increased slightly over the past week, edging up 2,000 to 439,000, although that number is still close to the lowest level in the last two years.