Housing Sparked The Recovery, But Now It's Falling Hard

The rows of empty new houses lining Southern California's hillsides easily weathered a June 28 earthquake, the region's worst in 40 years. But just two days later, a jolt of another sort set off shock waves that may be more damaging to the area: Hughes Aircraft Co., which has already laid off 3,000 workers this year, announced that an additional 9,000 will soon get pink slips. For the workers and their families, the news is devastating. For the state's housing industry, it's a disaster.

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