Spending on new residential construction spending jumped 18.6 percent in May from a year ago, according to figures released from the Census Bureau.

That includes an increase of 14.6 percent in spending on new single-family houses, and a whopping 48.6 percent on new multi-family buildings.

That puts 2012 almost 11 percent ahead of last year at the same time in single-family construction; it’s 36 percent ahead of last year in multi-family building.

Sadly, the Associated Press, Dow Jones, and even Housing Wire must not have looked closely at the numbers. They’re reporting only a 0.9% increase because they’re looking at total construction spending, which includes remodeling, and which mixes residential, commercial, and public.

They’re also looking at “seasonally adjusted annual” numbers, which means “if the whole year was like this month.”

Instead, they should look at the simple figures: private construction spending in May. That’s where the big news and the good news is — 18.6% increase in spending on new residential construction!

But that’s what you get for looking at the press release instead of at the numbers.