New Jersey housing construction has taken a strong leap forward in the early months of this year.

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Based on federal data that tracks construction by the pace of permitting, there has been a more that 23 percent increase in housing so far in 2013, most of it for apartments and condos.

"Year to date, in the first four months of 2013, we are off to the best start since 2008," Economic Analyst Patrick O'Keefe of Cohn/Reznick in Roseland says

Housing permits increased by almost 29 percent in April alone. O'Keefe says while the construction activity is stronger, we must also remember that New Jersey is coming off of some very lean construction times, so we still have a long way to go.

"Assuming continuation of the pace of the year-on-year gains during 2013's first four months (+23.5%), the number of units authorized this year will still be less than in 2007 - when the housing downturn was already well advanced, and fully 40% below the pre-meltdown peak."

Residential construction is highly seasonal and authorizations also tend to fluctuate considerably month-to-month (largely due to the lumpiness of multi-family permits).