Reports that America’s housing market is improving invariably lead to “Compared to what?” Against the boom years of a decade ago, 1 million starts is a pittance. Viewed versus the bust, it’s a doubling of business. Since neither era is a good measuring stick, the National Association of Home Builders uses as its gauge average production in each state between 2000 and 2003. Its conclusion: By the end of 2015, 40% of the states will be above “normal” levels. The rest won’t—and some won’t even be producing at 80% of that earlier time. For more NAHB analysis, visit its Eye on Housing blog.