U.S. housing starts moved up for the first time in eight months during February,  the  Commerce Department says.

U.S. housing starts moved up for the first time in eight months during February, according to numbers released by the Commerce Department.

Total starts rose to a seasonally adjusted 583,000 units during February.

The 22.2 percent increase was mostly due to a big jump in multifamily housing development, officials with the National Association of Home Builders said.

"While welcome news, this gain only reflects a modest rebound from January, which was the worst month in history for new-home production," said NAHB chief economist David Crowe. “The majority of the gain was due to characteristic volatility on the multifamily side, while single-family housing starts were up just over one percent for the month."

Still, the report offers some hope for the beleaguered housing industry, said Joe Robson, a home builder from Tulsa, Okla., who serves as NAHB chairman.

"Builders did pull a larger volume of single-family permits in February, suggesting a glimmer of hope for the prime home-buying season, which is near at hand," Robson said. "That said, we realize there's a need to be extremely cautious in terms of new building activity going forward, because there's still quite a lot of inventory out there that needs to be absorbed as foreclosures continue to flood the market in many areas."

The only section of the country not to report a gain in February was the West, which saw a 24.6 percent decline.