Dean Baker tells us that one economic number tells us little, but what little this housing number does tell us is bad:
Beat the Press: Housing Starts Plunge, What Will the "Experts" Say?: The Census Bureau reported that housing starts fell 14.3 percent between December and January and now stand 37.8 percent below their year ago level. I always caution about making too much of a single month's data and housing starts are an especially erratic number. Still, it is worth noting that the sharp declines in starts were in the South and West, regions that were not affected by any obvious bad weather for the month.