The U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s new residential construction statistics for February show housing starts down 1.1 percent from January but still nearly 35 percent above the year before. Despite the slight dip in new construction, building permits for future construction rose to their highest level since October 2008. Permits to build privately-owned housing units jumped 5.1 percent over January’s revised rate and are 34.3 percent above the February 2011 estimate. Single-family authorizations climbed 4.9 percent to a rate if 472,000, up from January’s figure of 450,000. More here.