The Census Bureau said Tuesday that housing construction in the United States soared by 11.6 percent in May, the biggest increase since July 1995.

Privately owned housing starts in May were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.733 million, up 11.6 percent from the revised April estimate of 1.533 million, and up 8 percent from the May 2001 rate of 1.604 million.

Single-family housing starts in May 2002 were at a rate of 1.389 million, 9.6 percent above the revised April figure of 1.267 million. The May estimate for units in buildings with five units or more was 319,000, the Census Bureau reported.

Privately owned housing completions in May hit a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.692 million, according to figures released jointly by the Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. This is 2.3 percent above the revised April estimate of 1.654 million, and 12.7 percent above the May 2001 rate of 1.501 million.

Single-family housing completions in May 2002 were at a rate of 1.359 million, 6 percent above the revised April figure, the joint release said.

Building permits issued in May for privately owned housing units also increased, the Census Bureau reported. May permits reached a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.674 million, up 2.6 percent from the revised April rate of 1.631 million, and 0.7 percent abouve the May 2001 estimate of 1.663 million.

Single-family permits issued in May 2002 reached 1.267 million, up 0.7 percent from the revised seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.258 million in April, the Census Bureau said.

May permits for buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 336,000, the bureau said.