Led by solid gains in single-family housing production, nationwide housing starts rose 4.4% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.089 million units in December, according to data from the U.S. Commerce Department. For the year, overall housing starts topped 1 million units.

“Today’s figures continue to be in line with our recent surveys, as builders have been becoming increasingly optimistic,” said Kevin Kelly, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder and developer from Wilmington, Del.

“With overall starts ending the year above 1 million units for the first time since 2007, we expect this momentum to carry forward in 2015,” said David Crowe, the NAHB’s chief economist. “A growing labor market and strengthening economy will spur steady growth in single-family housing production in the year ahead.”

Single-family housing production rose 7.2% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 728,000 in December, while multifamily starts edged 1% lower to 361,000 units. Combined single- and multi-family production was up in three out of four regions in December. The Northeast posted a 12.5% gain, the South was up 8.8% and the West registered a 5.8% increase. The Midwest posted a 13.3% decline.

Overall permit issuance was down 1.9% in December to a rate of 1.032 million. Single-family permits rose by 4.5% to 667,000 units while multi-family permits fell 12% to a rate of 365,000 units.

Regionally, permits were mixed in December. The Midwest and South posted gains of 6.7% and 9.6%, respectively, while the Northeast and West dropped 16.8% and 20.5%.

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