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Record Number of US Homeowners Facing Foreclosure


Hopes for a quicker economic recovery in the United States are being dashed by the latest information on housing.

Data compiled by real estate information services company RealtyTrac warns that about 1.5 million U.S. owners have been told they are in danger of losing their homes. The company Thursday said one in every 84 households got at least one foreclosure notice during the first six months of the year, a new record, despite government efforts to help homeowners.

RealtyTrac officials said a growing number of Americans are not able to make monthly home loan payments because they no longer have jobs.

Data from the U.S. Labor Department Thursday offered little encouragement.

The number of Americans filing for first time unemployment benefits last week fell to the lowest levels since January. But government analysts said the numbers are likely distorted because of the recent upheaval with two of the three top U.S. auto companies.

First time claims fell by 47,000 to a nationwide total of 522,000. The number of Americans continuing to file for unemployment insurance also dropped to fewer than 6.3 million from more than 6.9 million the week before.

A separate report Thursday by a branch of the U.S. Federal Reserve also gave more grim news, finding a sharp decline in manufacturing for one eastern region of the United States, encompassing the states of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.

The Fed has said unemployment may peak at more than 10 percent. The most recent data shows the U.S. unemployment rate at 9.5 percent, a 26-year high.

During a hearing Thursday, the U.S. Treasury assistant secretary for financial stability, Herbert Allison, told senators the Obama administration was doing everything it could to help distressed homeowners.

But he said even if the government's programs were a "total success" millions of people could still lose their homes.

A survey of U.S. home builders Thursday found that companies are slightly more optimistic.

The National Association of Home Builders index rose 2 points in July to 17, the highest it has been in almost a year. A reading below 50 indicates most home builders do not have confidence in the housing market.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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