Masco reported a big loss for its fourth quarter and will cut 8,000 U.S. jobs as a result of the steep decline in the nation’s housing market.

The company lost $187 million for the quarter compared with a profit of $173 million in the fourth quarter of 2005. Fourth-quarter sales fell just under 6 percent.

For the year, sales increased marginally at 2 percent, while earnings were cut almost in half at 48 percent.

Most of the jobs cuts announced in February had already taken place in the fourth quarter. The layoffs, which amount to 16 percent of its U.S. workforce, are expected to be completed by the end of the first quarter.

The company blamed the decline on a decrease in housing construction and lower spending on “big ticket” home improvement items.