Home sales are surging, and so are car sales -- marking another milestone indication that the economic recovery is gaining momentum in Minnesota.
With record-low financing and good deals to be had, many people who were putting off buying a car are now getting behind the wheel. In fact, Nissan, Ford and Chrysler reported double-digit sales increases in May and many say that will help fuel the rebounding economy even more.
Jesse Jones has been checking out the specs on a the 2013 Jeep Rubicon. It'll set him back almost $35,000, but he's seriously considering the investment.
"All the new Jeeps have been absolutely blowing my mind," he said.
As a server at a local restaurant, Jones said buying a car seemed like a dream before.
"When the economy was down a couple years ago, you would see a significant decrease in tips," he said.
Now, he's tempted because the customers are coming back -- and he's not the only one feeling more confident. Doug Sprinthall, with Walser Auto Group, told FOX 9 News car sales are up 33 percent over the past six months at his dealerships.
"It's not so much the people that were unemployed for a long time that got jobs," he explained. "It was everybody else that was worried about losing their job. I don't sense that fear anymore."
It's been a bumper year so far for some of the major automakers -- especially in May, which was marked by a spike in the sales of pickup trucks.
"We do sell a fair number of them to contractors, but there are a lot of suburban people who are doing remodeling," Sprinthall said. "They're great for towing boats and snowmobiles."
Dave Brennan, a marketing professor at the University of St. Thomas, told FOX 9 News that when people start buying homes and cars, that's usually a strong indicator of a real economic recovery.
"If you're putting $30,000, $40,000, or $50,000 on a car, you're betting you're going to have a job long-term to pay it off," he said.
While some parts of the nation are still struggling with unemployment, Brennan said Minnesota fared much better during the recession and is bouncing back much quicker.
"Some of the reason is: I don't think we overextended ourselves in housing like other places, such as Arizona and Florida, did," he said.
The latest census data shows that cars and trucks make up 19 percent of all U.S. retail sales made this year.