Updated from 8:51 a.m. ET with additional information
NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The number of building permits issued for privately owned housing units rose to the highest level in more than five years in October, the U.S. Department of Commerce reported Tuesday.
Building permits authorizing private residential construction jumped 6.2% from September to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.034 million, the highest level since June 2008. Year-over-year, permits were up 13.9% in October.
Permits rose to 974,00 in September from 918,000 reported for August. Economists expected building permits for the month to come in at 930,000.The rise in permits was led by multi-family authorizations, which are typically more volatile. Multi-family authorizations jumped 17% to 387,000 in October from the previous month. Single-family authorizations in October were 620,000, up 0.8% from the September figure of 615,000.
The more critical data point, housing starts, has been delayed.
The Commerce Department said Monday it has once again postponed the release of housing starts and completion data for September and October to Dec. 18, as it could not collect data during the government shutdown.
"The lapse in federal funding affected the data collection schedule for the Survey of Construction, which is the source of data on new housing unit starts and housing unit completions. Accurate data collection for September and October could not be completed in time for the November 26 release. As a result, the December 18 release will include data on housing units started and completed in September, October and November 2013."
Housing starts activity is one of the few indicators of housing that is still less than halfway back to normal. A pickup in housing construction would not only release inventory into the market and ease home prices, but it will also, more importantly, create jobs.
-- Written by Shanthi Bharatwaj in New York.