Summary Box: Housing Starts
Wednesday, March 16, 2011; 4:49 PM
WASHINGTON -- HOME CONSTRUCTION PLUNGES: Builders broke ground on the fewest homes in nearly two years. Home construction fell 22.5 percent in February from January to a seasonally adjusted 479,000 homes, according to the Commerce Department.
PERMITS PLUMMET: Building permits, an indicator of future construction, fell 8.1 percent last month to the lowest level in more than 50 years. Permit requests for single-family homes, which represent nearly 80 percent of the market, saw the biggest decline.
RECOVERY YEARS AWAY: Economists say it will be years before the pace of building returns to a more healthy level of 1.2 million units a year.