WASHINGTON U.S. builders began construction on more single-family homes and apartments in May, encouraged by more buyers and a scarcity of houses for sale.
The Commerce Department says builders increased housing starts 6.8 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 914,000. That followed a 14.8 percent decline in April. Housing starts are still below March's pace of more than 1 million the highest in five years.
Applications for building permits fell 3.1 percent in May to a seasonally adjusted 974,000. That's still close to the five-year high hit in April.
Single-family home construction rose 0.3 percent last month. That followed two months of declines. Apartment construction, which is more volatile, surged 21.6 percent after a big drop in April.