The rate of privately owned housing starts dropped about 5.3 percent in June compared to May and fell about 11 percent compared to June 2005, the U.S. Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development announced today.

Single-family housing starts dropped about 6.5 percent from May to June to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of about 1.49 million, a decline of about 13.8 percent compared to the June 2005 rate. The June rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 306,000.

For the first six months of 2006, the seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing starts dropped about 3.1 percent compared to the first six months of 2005.

The seasonally adjusted annual rate is a projection of a monthly total over a 12-month period, accounting for seasonal fluctuations in construction activity.

Privately owned housing units authorized by building permits in June were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of about 1.86 million, which represents a 4.3 percent drop compared to May and a 14.9 drop compared to June 2005.

Single-family building-permit authorizations in June were at a rate of about 1.4 million, which is 6.3 percent below the May figure and 17.5 percent below the June 2005 rate. Authorizations of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 397,000 in June.

Privately owned housing completions in June were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of about 2.02 million, which is 6.4 percent above the revised May estimate and is 2 percent above the June 2005 rate.

Single-family housing completions in June were at a rate of about 1.74 million, which is 7.5 percent above the May figure of 1.62 million and 2.5 percent above the June 2005 rate. The June rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 255,000.

The agencies noted that month-to-month changes in seasonally adjusted statistics can show irregular movements. It can take four months to establish an underlying trend for building permit authorizations, for example, five months for total starts, and six months for total completions.

Statistics in the reports are estimated from sample surveys and are subject to sampling variability as well as non-sampling error including bias and variance from response, non-reporting, and under-coverage. On average, the preliminary seasonally adjusted estimates of total building permits, housing starts and housing completions are revised about 1 percent.

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