Housing, manufacturing activity improve slightly: Chicago Fed
Economic indicators in Illinois and surrounding Midwestern states edged up in July as manufacturing and housing activity improved slightly in the region last month. Still, the economy in the Fed's seventh district, which includes Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin, continues to struggle with its activity index in the negative growth range, the Chicago Fed said Monday in the latest Chicago Fed National Activity Index. The index improved somewhat reaching an index score of negative 0.06 in July, up from negative 0.38 in June. When the index score hovers at zero, growth is normal, while a negative index score suggests growth remains below average. A positive index score indicates "above average" growth. While housing activity edged up, the median home sales price in the state is still down 3.8% over last year, according to the Illinois Association of Realtors. Home sales in Illinois rose 18.4% in July, with 9,708 homes sold in the state compared to 8,197 in July 2010, the association reported this past week. While sales went up, the median statewide sales price declined 3.8%, hitting $153,000 in July, down from $159,000 a year ago. The Chicago Fed noted some improvement in employment indicators and manufacturing last month, but overall the index still remains in the negative range. Write to: Kerri Panchuk.