U.S. Housing Starts Posted Their Biggest Decline in 27 yrs in February

Housing starts in the U.S. dropped 22.5% last month to an annual rate of 479,000 units from a revised January rate of 618,000, according to Commerce Department data released on Wednesday. The new starts posted their biggest decline in 27 years in February after falling well short of the expectations of economists, who had expected 560,000 new constructions. The drop was largely driven by the volatile sector of buildings with more than 5 units, which showed a 47% drop from January. Meanwhile, new building permits declined to their lowest level on record, falling to a rate of 517,000 in February, 8.2% below the revised January rate of 563,000. Economists had forecast a rate of 573,000.

Here is the U.S. Bureau report on housing Permits, Starts and Completions:

Housing Starts:
Privately-owned housing starts in February were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 479,000. This is 22.5 percent (±9.8%) below the revised January estimate of 618,000 and is 20.8 percent (±9.0%) below the February 2010 rate of 605,000.

Single-family housing starts in February were at a rate of 375,000; this is 11.8 percent (±10.0%) below the revised January figure of 425,000. The February rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 96,000.

Building Permits:
Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in February were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 517,000. This is 8.2 percent (±3.3%) below the revised January rate of 563,000 and is 20.5 percent (±3.5%) below the February 2010 estimate of 650,000.

Single-family authorizations in February were at a rate of 382,000; this is 9.3 percent (±1.2%) below the revised January figure of 421,000. Authorizations of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 121,000 in February.

The latest figures suggest the struggling real estate sector remains depressed and has yet to rebound from its sharpest nosedive in modern history.

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