U.S. Housing Starts Tumble

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Harsh winter weather and a lower demand in the housing market led to a 17 percent drop in housing starts in February, the US Commerce Department said today. Coupled with a recent drop in consumer confidence, the decline in sales offers evidence of an uneven recovery in home building.

According to the report, new home starts plunged to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 897,000. Starts on single-family units, which exclude apartments and represent almost two-thirds of the market, dropped 14.9 percent. Multifamily units, including apartments and condominiums, fell 20.8 percent.

Overall, the housing market has been slower than other sectors to recover from the recession, and this monthly report underscores that trend. Conditions remain ripe for a stronger housing market, however, as interest rates hover near historic lows, and job growth perking up, with employers expanding payrolls by an average 288,000 over the past three months.

Housing starts are a leading economic indicator of the health of the pool industry, as new home construction is a prime opportunity for pool building and strong home values in general provide the financial basis for pool and spa purchases.

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