May brought no relief to builders, as housing starts plummeted to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of just 969,000 units, according to the Census Bureau, 32.1% below the pace for May of 2007. Single family starts crashed to just a 674,000-start rate, down 41.2% from May, 2007 levels. Those figures are the lowest posted in 17 years.
Through five months of 2008, just under 412,000 homes have started, down 30.6% from the same period of 2007. Slightly more than 289,000 single family homes have been started over that span, down 40.1% below the first five months last year.
Permit numbers were also anemic. Building permits were issued at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of just 969,000 units in May, down 36.3% from the same month last year, while single family permits were issued at a rate of 623,000 units, down 41.4%.