New lows for housing starts, permits

Single-family permit activity off 80% from peak

The pace of housing construction activity fell to a record low in December, the U.S. Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development reported today.

Building-permit activity dropped to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 549,000 in December, down about 50.6 percent compared to the same month last year. And the rate of housing starts dropped 45 percent year-over-year in December to 550,000.