New housing construction rose 5.1 percent in June after a 12.6 percent plunge in May, with the Northeast showing the most volatility of any region in the nation, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday.

New construction on private housing bounced up 5.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.454 million units, the largest increase since February, the department's Census Bureau said.But that was not enough to make up ground lost in May when new construction fell a revised 12.6 percent from April, the department said.

Single family housing saw the most improvement, rising 10.2 percent to 1.098 million units, after falling a revised 8.9 percent in May, the department said.

Apartment construction, typically volatile, fell 8.2 percent in June after plunging a revised 21 percent in May, the department said. For construction of five or more units, the annual rate of 296,000 projects was the lowest since June 1982 when the rate was 204,000.

In the Northeast, new housing construction was up 17.6 percent in June after staggering 22.6 percent in May and 8.6 percent in April, the department said. The South and the West showed more modest increases, but in the Midwest new housing was off 3.7 percent.

Builders took out more permits for future construction in June, a sign they may be more optimistic about their ability to sell new housing later this year. Permits overall were up 3.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.489 million units. Permits were up in all sections of the country except the West, which showed a 0.8 percent dip.

Discounting seasonal variations in annual rates, 149,000 new construction projects were started in June, up 6.8 percent from the May figure of 139,500, the department said.

The dry weather that has devastated farmers this summer may have helped the housing industry, analysts said, but government reports last week showed sales of construction supplies were slow, a sign of continued weakness in the industry.

Other analysts said long-term constraints on housing will hold down new housing construction for some time.