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HOUSING STARTS UP 10.4 PERCENT IN AUGUST

 HOUSING STARTS UP 10.4 PERCENT IN AUGUST
 WASHINGTON, Sept. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- Although new housing starts


increased 10.4 percent in August to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,237,000 units, continued growth will prove to be unsustainable unless the economic and job outlook improves, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).
 "Long-term interest rates fell below 8 percent in August for the first time in 20 years, and what we are seeing is a demand reaction to the fall in interest rates," said NAHB President Robert "Jay" Buchert. "However, interest rates can only take you so far, and unless job growth is established and the economy picks up, housing demand cannot continue to grow."
 Somewhat tempering the increase in new home construction was a 1.6 percent decline in building permit activity, which is frequently seen as a barometer of future housing activity.
 "Taken together, we view these numbers cautiously," said Buchert. "The improvement in housing starts is somewhat offset by the decline in permit activity, but on the whole, the numbers are encouraging."
 Regionally, new housing construction rose 14.5 percent in the Midwest, 9.8 percent in the South and 15.2 percent in the West. It fell 6.7 percent in the Northeast.
 NAHB expects housing starts to rise modestly in the fourth quarter, with a total of 1.2 million new units in 1992, Buchert said.
 "Builders remain hopeful and encouraged but still cautious over the state of the economy," Buchert said. "Until we see an improvement in the job market, the housing and economic outlook will remain tenuous."
 -0- 9/22/92
 /CONTACT: Jay Shackford of the National Association of Home Builders, 202-822-0406/ CO: National Association of Home Builders ST: District of Columbia IN: CST SU: ECO


TW -- DC033 -- 2309 09/22/92 15:26 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Sep 22, 1992
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