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Job numbers rise in top three foreclosure states

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J Pat Carter/AP/File

(Read caption) A year ago, this foreclosed home in Homestead, Fla., was up for sale. Florida's job numbers rose in February for the first time in 26 months. The rise in employment could be an important stabilizer in Florida's housing market.

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The three US states with the highest foreclosure rates saw job numbers rise last month, a sign of a potential turnaround in their troubled housing markets.

Arizona, Florida, and Nevada all saw their payrolls jump, according to data released Friday by the US Department of Labor. For Florida, it was the first rise in employment in 26 months.

The upturn in jobs, if it can be sustained, could provide an important boost to the housing market. As more people have jobs, the more they can afford to pay an existing mortgage or take on a new one.

Consider Arizona. Hit hard when the housing boom went bust, the state lost 296,000 jobs between August 2007 and September 2009. Since then, however, employment has stabilized and has been up slightly in each of the last two months.

Meanwhile, Arizona's foreclosure filings have fallen. They were down nearly 21 percent in February from a year earlier, according to RealtyTrac, an online marketplace for foreclosed properties. Arizona still has the nation's second-highest foreclosure rate, but the trends are moving in the right direction.

No. 1 foreclosure state Nevada has seen a similar trend in February: employment up 0.5 percent since January, foreclosure filings down 7 percent.

The link between foreclosures and jobs isn't iron-clad. No. 3 Florida saw both employment and foreclosures rise from January to February. No. 4 California saw both of them fall.

Nevertheless, an uptick in jobs is a glimmer of light in the gloom that has hung for so long over the housing market.


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