WASHINGTON - Housing starts fell 15.5% last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 550,000, the Commerce Department reported today.
December's figures represent a 45 decline since December 2007. In November, housing starts fell 18%.
Single-family housing starts were 13% below the November level. Single family housing completions also dropped 13%.
Building permits for private housing fell 10.7% in November and were down 50.6% from last December.
The declines in housing starts and in building permits reflect the large number of existing homes that are unsold as a result of the problems in the housing market.
The largest month-to-month decline was in the Midwest, which saw housing starts drop 24.5%. The declines in the South, Northeast and West were 22.2%, 12.7% and 2.26%, respectively.
The largest year-to-year drop was 49.5% in the South. The declines in the Midwest, Northeast and West were 41.6%, 38.6% and 38.5%, respectively.