US builders started construction of homes in February at the second-fastest pace in over four years, further evidence of a sustainable housing recovery.

The Commerce Department says builders broke ground on homes last month at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 917,000. That is up from 910,000 in January.

The only time the rate has been faster since June 2008 was in December, when the pace reached 982,000.

Builders started single-family homes at an annual rate of 618,000, the most in more than four years. Apartment starts ticked up to 285,000.

In a positive sign for future construction, building permits increased 4.6% to 946,000. That was also the most since June 2008, just a few months into the recession.