Housing starts hit new low: 791,000

Housing starts dropped 4.5 percent in October to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 791,000. That’s down from a revised September estimate of 828,000. The figure released today is down 38.0 percent from the 1.275 million rate reported in October 2007.

The 791,000 figure is the lowest rate since tracking began in 1959.

The statistics from the U.S. Department of Commerce also showed single-family housing starts at a rate of 531,000, down 3.3 percent from September.

All regions showed double-digit declines compared to last year in both single-family and total housing starts, with the negative figures ranging from 33.9 percent to 51.6 percent. Compared to last month, however, the West showed a 7.5 percent increase in total starts, and a 1.7 percent increase in single-unit starts. The Midwest showed an 11.5 percent gain in single-family starts, and the South showed a 1.5 percent gain in total starts.

In the Northeast, total October housing starts were down 31 percent, and single-family starts were flat, compared to September.

Building permits fell 12 percent to a rate of 708,000. That figure also is a record low.