Housing starts rose 3.5 percent in May to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 560,000 units, according to newly released figures from the U.S. Commerce Department. The gain partially offsets a larger decline that was registered in April.

Single-family housing starts rose 3.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 419,000 units in May – their strongest pace since this January. Multi-family starts rose 2.9 percent to a 141,000-unit rate in May, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

Regionally, housing production rose 1.5 percent in the South and 18.1 percent in the West, but declined 3.3 percent in the Northeast and 4.1 percent in the Midwest in May.

Issuance of building permits, which can be an indicator of future building activity, rose 8.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 612,000 units in May. This was the strongest pace since December of 2010, according to NAHB. Single-family permits were up 2.5 percent to a 405,000-unit rate, while multi-family permits rose 23.2 percent to 207,000-units – their best pace since October of 2008.

Permit issuance posted double-digit gains in the Northeast and West in May, rising 35.6 percent and 15.1 percent, respectively. The South also posted a gain of 3.5 percent, while the Midwest registered a 1.1 percent decline.


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