Housing starts fell 6 percent in October for the ninth consecutive monthly decline to the lowest level since June 1982 in the last recession, the Commerce Department reports.

Permits for new construction were down 6.8 percent for the month, also to the lowest level since June 1982.Compared with October 1989, housing starts have fallen 26.8 percent.

The annual rate of new housing construction stood at slightly above 1 million, adjusted for seasonal factors. The annual rate for building permits was 925,000, also adjusted for seasonal factors.

October's decline in starts follows a drop of 2.1 percent in September, while last month's decrease in building permits follows a fall of 5.5 percent in September, the department's Census Bureau said.

A government spokesman said the nine consecutive monthly declines in housing starts is the worst string of losses since the Commerce Department started tracking the data in 1959.

Construction of new single-family homes was off 1 percent in October, while construction of apartment buildings with two, three or four units dropped 8.8 percent, the report said.

Construction of larger apartment buildings plunged 25.7 percent last month - to the lowest levels since August 1963, when the government started tracking apartment data.