The metro-east's housing and job markets improved over the past 12 months with more home closings and lower unemployment.
The 8.6 percent jobless rate recorded last month in the eight-county region in Southwest Illinois that includes St. Clair and Madison counties is down from the 9.6 percent recorded during July 2012. In St. Clair County, the number of jobless fell from 10.6 percent to 9.6 percent over the past 12 months while the unemployment rate in Madison County dropped from 9.3 percent to 8.5 percent in that span.
Statewide, Illinois' 9.2 percent jobless rate ranked second to Nevada among states with the nation's highest number of unemployed residents.
According to the Illinois Association of Realtors, statewide homes sales were up 28.5 percent last month over July 2012. The 16,012 sales recorded last month were up from the 12,461 transactions form the year before.
The 254 homes sales reported in St. Clair County and 297 sales recorded in Madison County during July were higher than the 287 recorded in Madison County and the 217 transactions recorded in St. Clair County in July 2012.
"I think anytime you start to see these numbers starting to move upward, for whatever reason, it's a good thing," said Al Suguitan, president and chief operating officer of the Greater Gateway Association of Realtors in Glen Carbon. "You don't have to pinpoint it. Good number show people are out there buying and shopping and looking at houses."
Connie Stellhorn, president of the Realtor Association of Southwestern Illinois in Belleville, said she is pleased to see sales gains. She said that although interest rates have been on the rise, the rates remain low enough to provide good opportunities for local buyers.
"We are happy to report that the same statewide trend in home sale gains is continuing in Southwestern Illinois," Stellhorn said in a released statement. "As summer ends, we turn the corner on another bright fall season."
Contact reporter Will Buss at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2526.