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Housing Starts Off 24.2 Percent; Permits Off 21.7 Percent

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The Commerce Dept.'s latest housing numbers show that the housing slump is showing little signs of slowing down, with new permits rising 3.0 percent from April but remaining more than 20 percent down versus one year ago:
Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in May were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,501,000. This is 3.0 percent (±1.3%) above the revised April rate of 1,457,000, but is 21.7 percent (±1.3%) below the revised May 2006 estimate of 1,918,000.
Housing starts fared slightly worse than permits, coming in at 1.474 million annualized (seasonally adjusted), a drop of 2.1 percent from April and off 24.2 percent from the year-ago volume. The 3 percent gain (seasonally adjusted) in new permits versus one month ago is certainly a small sign of hope -- permits had plunged more than 7 percent in April compared to March levels. The Associated Press offers the usual analysis, and ties in the housing numbers with the builder confidence results released yesterday by the NAHB.

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