Preliminary figures indicate personal and household crime in the United States rose 1.8 percent in 1988 - matching the 1987 increase - largely because of significant jumps in assaults, burglaries and car thefts, the Justice Department's research arm reported.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics said Sunday an early analysis of its annual National Crime Survey showed, however, that the overall number of violent crimes and personal thefts committed last year did not show any statistically significant changes.The semi-annual survey of about 99,000 people ages 12 or older shows a 1.8 percent increase in personal and household crimes to an estimated 35,989,000 offenses in 1988 compared with 35,336,000 in 1987. The 1987 increase also was 1.8 percent, it said.

The 1987 and 1988 increases continue the reversal of a declining trend that began in 1981. "Crime rates reached their lowest levels in 1986, when there were fewer offenses for most categories than at any time since the National Crime Survey commenced in 1973," said Joseph Bessette, the bureau's acting director.

The bureau said some of the crime growth during 1988 could be attributed to an increase in the nation's population but did not speculate on other factors.

The biggest increase in the victimization rates for violent crimes were in assaults, which rose by 6 percent to 4,601,640, including a 9.3 percent jump in aggravated assaults - 12.8 percent of which resulted in injuries.

Household crimes increased 2.6 percent last year, largely because of a 6.3 percent increase in burglaries and a 9.6 percent rise in motor vehicle thefts to an estimated 1,066,700 vehicles, the bureau said.

While the number of rapes reported to police showed a 9.3 percent drop in 1988, the number reported in the victims' survey continued its steady rise - a projected increase of 12.8 percent over 1987, it said.

It said that only 36 percent of all projected crimes actually were reported to law enforcement agencies, including 47 percent of violent crimes.