Improving employment numbers released last week can mean only good things for the housing market, local officials say.
Both continued their uptick in August, over both July numbers and compared to last year.
''I think most of the market changes are impacted by jobs,'' Warren Area Board of Realtors president Yvonne Smith said recently, accurately predicting improved jobless rates nearly a week before statewide employment figures were released.
Trumbull County home sales increased in August by more than 11 percent over the same month last year.
Likewise, Trumbull County jobless rates dropped to 8.2 percent last month, well below the August 2011 rate of 9.6 percent.
''People feel more secure in their jobs,'' Smith said. ''When the job markets go, the housing market goes.''
The broader economy also is likely to benefit from rising home prices. When home prices rise, people typically feel wealthier and spend more. And more Americans are likely to put their houses up for sale, which could further energize the market.
Simply put, ''When you own a home, you buy things,'' Smith said.
The local Realtor also was happy with increasing home prices, saying the purchase prices are starting to turn to a "seller's market.''
Rising home prices are one of many signs that the housing market is slowly recovering.
Nationwide, sales of previously occupied homes jumped in August to the highest level since May 2010. Builder confidence also is at a six-year high, and construction of single-family homes rose last month to the fastest annual rate in more than two years.
Nationwide statistics released last week for July also showed greater sales at prices about 1.2 percent higher than last July, along with fewer foreclosures.
The statistics were compiled by Standard & Poor's / Case Shiller index released Tuesday. It was the second straight year-over-year gain after two years without one.
The report also says prices rose in July from June in all 20 cities tracked by the index. That's the third straight month in which prices rose in every city.
The S&P / Case-Shiller index covers roughly half of U.S. homes. It measures prices compared with those in January 2000 and creates a three-month moving average. The July figures are the latest available.
The closest city included in the S&P/Case-Shiller index is Cleveland, where the average price of home sales rose 0.4 percent over the previous month and also 0.4 percent over the same month last year.
In the 12 months ending in July, prices have risen in 16 of 20 cities.
"We are more optimistic about housing," David Blitzer, chairman of the S&P's index committee. "Stronger housing numbers are a positive factor for other measures, including consumer confidence."
But even with the gains, home sales and construction remain well below healthy levels. Home prices remain 30 percent below their peak in June 2006, according to Case-Shiller. That was the height of the housing boom.
Home sales have been bolstered by the lowest mortgage rates on record. The average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage touched a record low of 3.49 percent last week and has been below 4 percent all year. A limited supply of homes has also helped drive prices higher.
Prices are also rising because of a decline in foreclosures and sales of other deeply discounted homes. Many homes in the foreclosure process will likely come on the market in the coming months, which could drag on prices.
Still, many Americans, particularly first-time homebuyers, are unable to qualify for a mortgage or can't afford larger down payments required by banks. That's holding back sales.
Home sales could get a further boost from the Federal Reserve. The Fed said two weeks ago that it would purchase $40 billion of mortgage-backed securities each month until the economy and hiring improve substantially. That's likely to keep mortgage rates at record-low rates for some time.
Associated Press Economics Writer Christopher S. Rugaber contributed to this story.