New-home sales flopped in June, an indication that the slow housing market recovery is not gaining much strength.
Sales of new houses fell 8.4% last month to an annual pace of 350,000, a 8.4% decline compared with a month earlier, according to the Census Bureau report issued Wednesday.
The modest sales pace is a far cry from the boom years, when the annual rate reached the 1.4 million mark in July 2005.
The June performance fell well short of expectations. A consensus of housing market analysts, as measured by Briefling.com, had projected a sales rate of 373,000.
The report was bad news for the overall economy. A recovery in home construction would cut into the nation's high unemployment rate, currently at 8.2%.
For every new home built about three jobs are created, according to David Crowe, chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders.
Many of those jobs go to some of the workers hardest hit by the nation's current economic malaise. About half are on construction sites. The others go to the makers of building materials, appliances, furniture and other home products, plus the truckers who take them to the site.
Confidence among builders had been up lately. They've been applying for more new permits to build more new homes, rising at double-digit percentage rates in June compared with a year earlier.
A sales slowdown could cause them to lose some of that fragile confidence.