U.S. builders continued in September to reduce the number of new homes they erect, reflecting a glut of unsold properties nationwide.

U.S. builders continued in September to reduce the number of new homes they erect as the country suffers from a glut of unsold properties, the government reported.

The Commerce Department said nationwide housing starts dropped 6.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 817,000, the lowest since 1991.

Officials with the National Association of Home Builders said the report’s findings were predictable.

“While lower than generally expected, today’s numbers are not surprising in light of our latest builder surveys and evidence of persistently high inventories of new and existing homes, weakening home prices, falling payroll employment and declining consumer sentiment,” said David Seiders, the NAHB’s chief economist. “With the impacts of the record-breaking housing contraction now spilling over to other key sectors of the economy and weighing heavily on financial markets, an additional economic stimulus package -- including substantial measures to spur home buying and limit foreclosures -- is the best chance we have to limit the severity of recession.”

Some political watchers have predicted that Congress could pass an additional stimulus bill in the final weeks of the 2007-2008 session following Tuesday’s elections.

It’s strongly needed, said association Chairwoman Sandy Dunn, a builder from Point Pleasant, W.Va.

“Builders are doing all they can to bring supply and demand back into balance by limiting new production and offering substantial incentives to prospective buyers,” she said. “Unfortunately, the heavy toll that today’s financial-market woes are taking on consumer confidence is a major impediment to getting housing back on track as an engine of economic growth, and additional government help most likely is needed to help stimulate new sales activity.”