Single-family housing starts in May rose 28.5% over last year, with 708,000 starts recorded in the month compared to 551,000 units a year earlier, the government said Tuesday.

The U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development compiled the report, which also shows housing starts down 4.8% from April's estimate of 744,000 units.

Building permits in May rose 7.9% from 723,000 in April to 780,000 last month. From last year, building permits were up 25%.

Single-family permits also hit 494,000 in May, up 4% from April.

Meanwhile, home completions in May fell 10.3% from April to 598,000. That figure is still 10.1% above the 2011 rate of 543,000 home completions.

"For the latest month the single-family component gained 3.2% after a 4% rise in April," Econoday analysts said. The multifamily component, which is volatile, fell 21.3%, following an 8.4% boost in April. By region, the fall in starts reflected a 20.3% decrease in the Northeast with the Midwest declining 13.3% and the South falling 6.1%. The West rose 2.6%."

Econoday noted that housing permits improved in May which could suggest construction growth in the next several months.

kpanchuk@housingwire.com