Summary Box: Homebuilders missing out on recovery

HOME CONSTRUCTION PLUNGES: New-home construction plummeted in April to a seasonally adjusted rate of 523,000 homes per year, according to the Commerce Department. A major drop in volatile apartment building pulled down the monthly figures.

POST-RECESSION: Nearly two years after the recession ended, the pace of construction is inching along at less than half the level economists consider healthy.

MANY WOES: Builders are struggling to compete with waves of foreclosures that have forced down prices of previously occupied homes. High unemployment, tighter lending standards and the deep discounts on previously occupied homes are all hurting homebuilders.