Housing starts fell 12.8 percent in January and building permits declined 4.7 percent in January, the Commerce Department reports.

The number of housing starts and building permits issued was the lowest since January 1982, during the last recession, officials said.Privately owned housing starts in January were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 850,000, compared to the December rate of 975, 000, which was a 13.7 percent drop from 1.13 million in November.

The January estimate is 45 percent below the January 1990 figure of 1.54 million.

Building permits numbered 804,000 in January, compared to the December figure of 844,000, which was a 6.8 percent drop from 906,000 in November. Officials said January marked a record 12th straight monthly decline in the number of building permits issued.

The permit total was 54 percent below the January 1990 rate of 1.74 million. The unusually high January 1990 rate was attributed to proposed federal guidelines for handicapped accessibility to multi-family buildings.