Darker U.S. homebuilder mood not just due to bad weather

Carpenter's work on installing fascia trimwork at a housing site at Mid-Atlantic Builders ''The Villages of Savannah'' development in Brandywine, Maryland May 31, 2013. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

A plunge in U.S. homebuilder confidence reported on Tuesday reflects a range of problems facing the construction industry seven years after the housing crash, challenges that go deeper than the severe winter weather blamed for much of the gloom.

The National Association of Home Builders said on Tuesday that builder confidence dropped 10 points between January and February, from 56 to 46, the largest drop since the survey began in 1985. Readings below 50 mean more builders view market conditions as poor than favorable.

But economists, analysts and builders say the decline in confidence is deep-seated and has lingered due to the widespread destruction suffered by the construction sector when the housing market collapsed. The industry faces a chronic shortage of laborers, difficulty in obtaining credit and a skittishness among developers to invest in new sites. (Reuters Insider: reut.rs/1gAYKfd).

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