Summary Box: Housing Starts

By The Associated Press
The Associated Press
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.

© 2011 The Associated Press