New home construction one-third below last year   

Washington – August activity in the home construction market showed a continued contraction, with the market one-third below year-ago levels – and slower than at any time since early 1991.

Building permits issued in August were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 854,000 according to the Department of Commerce. That is 8.9% below the July report and is 36.4% below the August 2007 level.

According to Commerce Department records, the seasonally adjusted annual rate of new building permits has not been this low since February 1991 – when it was 853,000 units – more than 17 years ago.

Actual construction was just as sluggish. “Privately-owned housing starts in August were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 895,000,” reported Commerce. This was a 6.2% slip from the revised July estimate of 954,000 – and 33.1% below the August 2007 rate of 1,337,000 new home starts.

As for completions of privately-owned housing, the August 2008 seasonally adjusted annual rate of 961,000 or 9.8% was below July 2008 – and 35.8% below August 2007.

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