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HOUSING STARTS UP 5.5 PERCENT IN JANUARY

 HOUSING STARTS UP 5.5 PERCENT IN JANUARY
 WASHINGTON, Feb. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- New housing starts rose 5.5


percent in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.17 million units, the Commerce Department reported today. However, it is still too early to signal a strong recovery is underway in the housing industry because the gain was concentrated in the multifamily sector and in the Midwest region of the country, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).
 "This is good news, but if you examine the numbers carefully, you can see the jump in construction is primarily attributed to a 36.9 percent increase in the multifamily sector," said NAHB President Robert "Jay" Buchert. "And the rise was concentrated entirely in the Midwest -- up 33.9 percent -- while starts fell in the Northeast, South and West."
 Construction of single-family units rose by a more modest 0.9 percent to seasonally adjusted annual rate of 974,000.
 Buchert indicated the housing industry in 1992 is poised for a rebound from last year's weak showing, which saw housing starts fall 15 percent to 1.015 million units, the lowest level since 1945.
 "Our surveys indicate that builders are more optimistic because they anticipate several housing initiatives, including a $5,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers, will be part of any economic stimulus package passed by Congress," Buchert said.
 Regionally, housing starts declined 7.6 percent in the Northeast, 0.8 percent in the South and 2.3 percent in the West. They rose 33.9 percent in the Midwest.
 Applications for new building permits to build homes rose 6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.118 million. This includes a 7.6 percent increase for single-family homes to a 916,000-unit rate and a 1 percent decline for apartments to a 202,000-unit rate.
 -0- 2/19/92
 /CONTACT: Jay Shackford of NAHB, 202-822-0406/ CO: National Association of Home Builders ST: District of Columbia IN: SU: ECO


MK-SB -- DC017 -- 0524 02/19/92 14:09 EST
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Date:Feb 19, 1992
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