Following months of steady increases, the average home sales price dipped less than 1% in March, to $244,483. The quarterly average of $245,184 was nearly 8% higher than the three-month norm last year.

Employment numbers and job availability stimulated discussion among those attending the Zoom meeting Thursday on Ingham’s findings.

The number of people holding jobs in March totaled 123,900, an estimated 700 more than were working in March last year, when the pandemic began to pick up steam. Collins, who presented Ingham’s findings via Zoom, said 2020 was shaping up to become a record-shattering year economically.

The jobless rate, said Ingham, continues to fall slowly and stood at 6.1% in March compared to 4.7% in March last year. He said “unemployment rate movements typically lag behind the payroll employment numbers, and we should see improvements in both as the year progresses.”

Sam Castillo III, whose family owns La Fiesta restaurant and operates a bar and pizza parlor at the Union Hall food hall downtown, said finding and keeping employees remains among his top challenges.

“We are seeing a shortage of manpower,” he said. “We have people who don’t show up for interviews, or leave during the middle of a shift, knowing they can find a computer somewhere and apply for unemployment with a click.”