Unemployment and payroll numbers for February were released last Thursday and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Chicago is making some gains as the Unemployment Rate fell to 6.5% for the month of February. Statewide, the unemployment rate fell to 6.0%. These numbers are still above the national rate of 4.9% yet is showing some steady signs of following the national trend.

Lower employment and more people back to work will continue to help drive the demand for housing, both single family and multifamily. Rental demand is showing stronger growth as mortgage lenders are still sticking to their guidelines as well as continued rulings from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB. A combination of fully-documented, decent credit lending environment as well as tougher rules from the CFPB on how the mortgage process should continue is keeping many potential home buyers at bay which is driving up rental prices.

Unless and until lending guidelines are relaxed, which doesn’t seem very likely, more people in the workforce who also need housing will continue to keep demand for apartment units high. Obtaining a loan approval is much more difficult in today’s environment than it was a few years ago but then that has contributed to a much lower delinquency and foreclosure rate. An increase in apartment units can come about as older buildings needing renovation are acquired, developed and made ready for the rental market.