Friday, April 17, 2009

Housing Construction Falls Sharply

Source : The Straits Times, April 16, 2009


WASHINGTON - HOUSING construction plunged to the second lowest level on record in March, reversing a big jump from the previous month.

US home construction took a bigger-than-expected drop in March, and an indicator of future building resumed falling. -- PHOTO: AFP

Meanwhile, new claims for state unemployment benefits unexpectedly plunged.

The Commerce Department said on Thursday construction of new homes and apartments dropped 10.8 per cent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 510,000 units.

That was the second lowest construction pace in records that go back 50 years.

The decline was worse than economists had expected and February activity also was revised lower.

Applications for building permits fell 9 per cent in March to a record low of 513,000 units.

New jobless claims down

But it's not all bad news on the economic front as new jobless claims fell by 8 per cent to 610,000 in the past week, official figures showed.

This is the third consecutive deline suggesting some easing of pressure in the weak labour market.

The figure marked a drop of 53,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 663,000, the US Labour Department said.

It was much better than analyst expectations of 658,000 initial claims. But despite the drop in new claims, the number receiving unemployment benefits topped six million - rising by 172,000 to 6,022,000 in the week to April 4, indicating difficulties in finding new jobs. -- AP

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