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According to data released Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Commerce, the seasonally adjusted annual rate of total housing starts for August stood at 598,000, up 10.5% from the downwardly revised July estimate and 2.2% above the August 2009 rate of 585,000. Despite the growth, the numbers continue to reflect a struggling market in residential construction. Building permits increased 1.8% in August to 569,000 from the revised July rate of 559,000, and is 6.7% below August 2009 levels.