New U.S. housing starts and permits rebounded in May from record lows as ground-breaking for multifamily units surged after tumbling the prior month, a government report showed on Tuesday.

Houses under construction are seen in Fontana, 

California in this picture taken February 5, 2009. 
Reuters/Mario Anzuoni

The Commerce Department said housing starts jumped 17.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 532,000 units, from April's revised 454,000 units. Ground-breaking for multifamily units surged 61.7 percent. Multifamily unit starts fell 49.4 percent in April.

Compared to the same period last year, housing starts dived 45.2 percent.

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected an annual rate of 490,000 units for May.

New building permits, which give a sense of future home construction, rose 4.0 percent, the biggest advance since June last year, to 518,000 units in May. That compared to analysts' forecasts for 500,000 units. Compared to the same period a year-ago, building permits plummeted 47 percent.