At a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $495.7 billion, new construction starts in May advanced 5% from April, according to McGraw Hill Construction.
Much of the uptick came from nonresidential building, which registered moderate growth for the second month in a row after its sluggish performance at the outset of 2013.
During the first five months of 2013, total construction starts on an unadjusted basis were reported at $187.6 billion, down 3% from last year.
Residential building advanced 3% in May to $206.8 billion.
Single-family housing also edged up 2% in May, the company noted.
The rate of activity for single-family housing continues to be high by recent standards, with May up 26% from the average monthly pace during 2012.
By geography, single-family housing in May revealed gains in the Midwest, up 6%; the West, up 5%, and the South Atlantic, up 2%, respectively.
However, there were declines in the South Central region of the nation, down 2% and the Northeast, down 6%, respectively.
Multifamily housing in May grew 7%, and its monthly volume was up 24% from the average pace during 2012.