IRIS Research provided a snapshot of the local economy in its Federal Budget 2014-15 review, showing the property market in the Wollongong area rebounding strongly and the unemployment rate increasing only slightly.
Executive director Simon Pomfret said labour market statistics showed the monthly unemployment rate had risen 0.2 percentage points in March to 6.2 per cent.
That is the same as the national rate but higher than the state rate of 5.5 per cent.
Local firms have reported favourable trading conditions compared to the March 2013 quarter.
Relative profitability for local firms also showed improvement and Mr Pomfret said an improved employment position suggested the steady decline in staff levels during the past 36 months was likely to be at an end.
Other statistics show business and household borrowing costs in the Illawarra remain at a low.
While the value of commercial building approvals in the Illawarra declined during the year to December 2013 the number of dwellings approved was up 39.6 per cent, including a 33.5 per cent growth in unit approvals (426), and a 41.4 per cent rise in house approvals to 1497.
The percentage increases were even higher in the Wollongong statistical district of Wollongong, Shellharbour and Kiama where dwelling approvals climbed by 70 per cent to 1229 and house approvals lifting 60.3 per cent to 845.
There was also a 75.5 per cent lift in the cost of dwellings approved in the same three local government areas, rising $34.8 million.
The total value of residential dwelling approvals grew 47.9 per cent across the whole region.