Housing Bleeds Out

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Perhaps it is the expiration of housing tax credits, or high unemployment, or fears about a second recession.

The Commerce Department said that housing starts in May were awful

Privately-owned housing starts in May were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 593,000. This is 10.0 percent (±10.3%)* below the (10.3%) revised April estimate of 659,000, but is 7.8 percent (±9.7%)* above the May 2009 rate of 550,000.

Single-family housing starts in May were at a rate of 468,000; this is 17.2 percent (±7.9%) below the revised April figure of 565,000. The May rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 112,000.

And,

Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in May were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 574,000. This is 5.9 percent (±2.2%) below the revised April rate of 610,000, but is 4.4 percent (±2.6%) above the May 2009 estimate of 550,000.

If housing and employment are the engines of a long-term economic recovery, then that recovery is far, far away.

Douglas A. McIntyre

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