LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

By MARTIN CRUTSINGER, AP Economics Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. builders started work on more single-family homes in May and requested the most permits to build homes in three and a half years. The increase suggests the housing market is recovering even as other areas of the economy weaken.

The Commerce Department says single-family construction increased 3.2 percent in May, the third straight monthly increase. Overall housing construction fell 4.8 percent because of a 21.3 percent plunge in apartment construction, which can be volatile.

Housing starts dropped to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 708,000 units in May, down from an upwardly revised rate of 744,000 in April - the fastest building pace since October 2008.

But permits to build homes rose to a rate of 780,000 - the best since September 2008.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Read or Share this story: http://on.ksdk.com/1gtx2U0