ALAN ZIBELWASHINGTON (AP) ¿ At least the market for new homes isn't getting worse anymore, and that's the first step to getting better. In fact, the overall economy is actually getting a small boost as more buyers walk into model houses ready to sign contracts and builders hire workers to pour foundations and pave roads. Construction of single-family homes rose in July for the fifth straight month, edging up almost 2 percent to the highest level since last October, the government said Tuesday. Building permits climbed nearly 6 percent. Each new home built creates about three jobs on average and generates about $90,000 in taxes paid to local and federal authorities, according to the National Association of Home Builders. With new construction up 37 percent from its low point this winter, the industry is expected to help the overall economy this quarter for the first time in three and a half years. "Housing is no longer a drag," said Mark Vitner, a senior economist with Wells Fargo. "That's a good thing."