With everyone keeping a close eye on the housing market, you might be wondering which Illinois communities fared better during the housing downturn.

Illinois REALTOR® Magazine recently interviewed University of Illinois economist Geoffrey Hewings and the answer shouldn’t be surprising – communities with the steadiest employment bases have weathered the market’s ups and downs better than communities with job bases tied more closely to the cyclical nature of the overall economy.

Two cases in point: Bloomington-Normal with its stable insurance industry base as the headquarters of both State Farm Insurance and Country Financial and Champaign-Urbana, home of the University of Illinois.

“The market didn’t rise as rapidly as other parts of the state and it hasn’t fallen quite as badly,” Hewings said.

Compared to the state’s other metropolitan areas, the two central Illinois communities also have some of the lowest local unemployment rates, according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security. And jobs are always an important factor when it comes to the health of the housing market, Hewings has said.

But while Illinois metropolitan areas that are very much committed to manufacturing have experienced some of the more precipitous falls, they are also starting to come back, Hewings said.

On the bright side, in the last couple of months Illinois has begun to add jobs in the manufacturing industry, and that is a trend that economists are seeing play out nationally as well, he said.

Stay tuned. The Illinois Association of REALTORS® will release May Illinois housing statistics on June 22.