Summary Box: New-home sales plunge in January

NEW-HOME SALES FALL: New-homes sales fell to a seasonally adjusted rate of 284,000 homes sold in January, the Commerce Department said. That's less than half the 600,000-a-year-pace that economists say is healthy. Bad winter weather likely contributed to the decline.

WEAK HOUSING SECTOR: The dismal annual pace in January follows the worst year for new-home sales in nearly a half-century, and the fifth straight year of declining sales.

ECONOMIC IMPACT: On average, each new home built creates the equivalent of three jobs for a year and generates about $90,000 in taxes, according to the National Association of Home Builders.