Housing starts plunged 14% in December, demolishing median analyst estimates, which foresaw a mere 5% dip. November’s numbers were also revised down, reports the Wall Street Journal, from the 3.7% drop originally reported to 7.9%. When the dust settled, construction was at its lowest point since 1991, after suffering the biggest year-over-year decline since 1980.
Builder confidence remains at historic lows, according to one national index, rising just 1 point this month from December’s record-setting trough. “The magnitude of the housing bubble was unprecedented, and the corrective process promises to be long and painful,” said one economist. Indeed, building permits, which indicate future housing starts, also dropped 8.1% in December.