The U.S. homeownership rate ended 2004 at 69.2% -- a record level first attained in the second quarter, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.For the year, the homeownership rate averaged 69.0%, which surpasses the previous annual record of 68.3% set in 2003, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. "These numbers show that housing is still leading the way in our rapidly recovering economy," HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson said. "President Bush is committed to building on these accomplishments so that people from every walk of life can have an opportunity to become homeowners." The Census Bureau reported that the homeownership rate rose from 69.0% in the third quarter to 69.2% in the fourth quarter. The fourth-quarter data indicate that the homeownership rate among blacks stood at 49.1%, down from 49.4% in the same period of 2003. Meanwhile, the Hispanic homeownership rate hit 48.9% in the fourth quarter, up from 47.7% a year earlier. The homeownership rate for whites was 76.2%, up from 75.5% in the fourth quarter of 2003.

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