Residential Building Sees Second Biggest Annual Decline Ever in 2007

Washington, D.C.–New home construction in 2007 dropped by the largest amount in 27 years due to the housing decline, The Commerce Department said Thursday.Last year, construction began on 1.353 million new homes and apartments, a 24.8 percent decline from 2006–the second biggest annual drop on record, according to The New York Times.Construction declined in December by a larger-than-predicted 14.2 percent. Housing starts totaled 1.006 million units at an annual rate. New construction approvals didn’t offer much hope for the coming months: Building permits dropped in December by 8.1 percent to an annual rate of 1.068 million units, the seventh monthly decline in a row, which the Times said indicated builders have cut development plans because of low housing demand.However, the Labor Department also said this week that the number of recently unemployed workers applying for benefits fell by 21,000 last week to 301,000–the third successive weekly decline.Still, the disappointing home construction figures have led some economists to say the current housing slump will match the late-1970s and early-1980s decline, in which residential building plummeted for four straight years.