The report said that work was started on 1.850 million units at a seasonally adjusted annual rate in January, up 0.2 percent from 1.847 million units in December.
For January, the government said that construction was begun on 1.51 million single-family homes, a gain of 2.1 percent from the December level of 1.48 million units. Strength in this area offset a drop in construction of apartments, which fell by 8.7 percent to an annual rate of 303,000 units.
For all of 2002, housing starts totaled 1.71 million units, up 6.4 percent from 1.60 million units started in 2001. Last year marked the best year for housing construction since 1986.