Housing starts took a bigger than expected dive in December -- 14.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted 1.006 million annual rate, to be exact, the Commerce Department said Thursday morning. The latest surge downward is the lowest point for groundbreaking in 16 years. The report also revealed that housing starts are down 38.2 percent year-over-year.

Regionally, housing starts fell by 19.6 percent in the West (the lowest level since 1959), 30.8 percent in the Midwest, 25.8 percent in the Northeast, and 3.3 percent in the South. Starts for single-family homes fell 2.9 percent month-to-month and 24.8 percent below starts in December 2006.

In addition, the Commerce Department report stated that building permits for single-family homes fell 10.1 percent from November and 25.3 percent year-over-year. Housing completions for single-family homes also took a dive, falling 12 percent month-to-month and 24.2 percent annually.