Apartment construction in the Northeast fueled a jump in building in July, as housing starts nationwide reached their strongest pace in six months.

The Commerce Department says housing starts rose 2.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.21 million from 1.19 million in June. That was the highest level since February. Most of the gains came from an 8.3 percent acceleration in the construction of multi-family buildings. Construction of single-family houses edged up 0.3 percent.

Home construction climbed 15.3 percent in the Northeast. The Midwest and South reported smaller gains, while starts slipped in the West.

Still, future gains may be limited as housing starts are outpacing permits to build. Authorized permits slipped 0.1 percent in July to an annual rate of 1.15 million.