NORMAN — The missing pieces of the nation’s economic recovery have been jobs and real estate.
The unemployment rate has declined in many areas and real estate prices are picking up in others.
U.S. builders started work on homes at the fastest pace in four and a half years this past month. The Commerce Department reported builders broke ground on 12 percent more houses and apartments in December compared to a year earlier.
About 954,000 new units are under construction or about twice what were being built at the height of the recession. In Norman, 374 single-family home permits were issued in 2012 compared to 315 in 2011.
Interest rates have helped push builders, too. The average 30-year mortgage dropped to 3.38 percent in the U.S.
A 15-year mortgage rate was unchanged at 2.66 percent. Many economists predict the housing industry will strengthen more in 2013.