Housing starts in December fell to their lowest level since 1991 as the credit crunch and slowdown in sales continued to hobble the industry, according to a report released jointly today by the U.S. Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development. Privately owned units authorized by building permits in December dropped to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.06 million, down 8.1 percent from the previous month and 34.4 percent from the December 2006 estimate of 1.63 million. The seasonally adjusted annual rate is a projection of a monthly total over a 12-month period, adjusted for seasonal fluctuations in building activity. For single-family units only, building permits issued sank 10.1 percent between November and December, to a rate of 692,000 -- November permits had a rate of 770,000. Authorizations of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 322,000 in December. For all of 2007, total building permits authorized for single-family and...
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