Nationwide housing starts rose 5.2% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.178 million units in February, according to newly released data from Housing and Urban Development and the Commerce Department. Single-family production increased 7.2% to 822,000 units, its highest level since November 2007, while multifamily starts edged up 0.8% to 356,000 units.

“This month’s report is consistent with positive builder sentiment and other economic indicators showing that the housing market continues to recover at a gradual pace,” said National Association of Home Builders Chairman Ed Brady.

“February’s single-family gains indicate that this sector is strengthening in line with our forecast,” said National Association of Home Builders Chief Economist David Crowe. “As the U.S. economy firms, job creation continues and mortgage interest rates remain low, we should see further growth in housing production moving forward.”

Combined single- and multifamily starts rose in three of the four regions in February, with the West, Midwest and South posting respective gains of 26.1%, 19.9% and 7.1%. The Northeast registered a 51.3% loss.

A decline in the volatile multifamily sector pushed overall permit issuance down 3.1% in February. Multifamily permits fell 8.4% to a rate of 436,000 while single-family permits ticked up 0.4% to 731,000.

Regionally, permits increased in the Northeast by 40.4 %. The Midwest, West and South registered respective permit losses of 11.4%, 7.2% and 4.4%.