Housing starts jumped to 12.1% in December to a 954,000 annual rate, surpassing what analysts forecasted and capping the best year for the homebuilding industry in four years. An estimated 780,000 housing units were started in 2012, which marks a 28.1% increase over the 2011 figure of 608,800.

The strong numbers show once again that the residential real estate market is boosting economic-growth in the U.S.

“The housing sector increasingly appears firmly on the path to a lasting fundamental recovery,” Joseph LaVorgna, chief U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. in New York, reports Bloomberg. “This should provide a powerful tailwind for the economy over the course of the next year.”

For the full government’s report go here.