Good news from New Jersey's housing front: the number of new construction permits has jump-started this year so far to its best level since 2007.  

(Matt Cardy, Getty Images)

Census Bureau figures show builders are taking out new home and apartment construction permits at a pace 20 higher than last year's. Roseland economic analyst Patrick O'Keefe says weather was one factor.

"They had a reason not to pull permits when the weather was bad. Now that they've got good weather, they're going forward," O'Keefe said.

He describes the construction permit activity during the month of May as being "up quite sharply." O'Keefe said another big reason is the market for homes and apartments is no longer subdued.

"it's both demand and also the conditions for construction," he said.

So-called multifamily construction is still the biggest undertaking. Leading the uptick are North Jersey apartment buildings. And to put this in perspective, New Jersey's housing construction industry is still playing catch-up from its run of recent lean years that pushed construction way down after the great recession hit.