Housing starts for the month of August fell 6.2%, to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 895,000. The number was well below expectations, as economists were expecting a number closer to 955,000. In the past year, housing starts have fallen 33.1% and are currently at their worst level in 17 years.

New construction on single-family homes fell by 1.9% for the month, the lowest level since January 1991. Starts on single-family homes have fallen 40% in the last year.

Regionally, total starts fell by 14.5% in the Northeast, 13.6%in the Midwest, and 7.4% in the South. Starts made a gain of 10.8% in the West.

Building permits, an indicator of future construction, also fell sharply, by 8.9%, to a 26-year low of 854,000 annualized units. Permits for single-family homes dropping 5.1% to 554,000, also a 26-year low. Building permits are down 36.4% in the past year.

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