While it may not be widely recognized in coastal Louisiana, our state is a big producer of timber products, both wood and paper. So there is some good news for Louisiana in the recent increase in housing starts.

Throughout western and northern parishes, the impact of the recession of 2008 on the timber industry was profound. It is not just in the timber used in building but a slowing economy uses less in the way of paper products as well.

Now, though it’s been a long time coming, U.S. builders are starting more houses and apartments. The federal Commerce Department reports that new homes and existing home sales are trending up, although sometimes both categories don’t go up in each and every month.

Another good sign: Building permits, a sign of future construction, increased 4.6 percent to 946,000 in January. That was also the most since June 2008.

The signs of a slow recovery in housing have been in the statistics but the February numbers suggest a growing breadth in the housing recovery that is good news for the general economic outlook. Homebuilders say construction of a new home contributes an average of three jobs for a year and generates about $90,000 in tax revenue.

So new home starts represent a particularly good sign, and one we welcome.