Real estate advertising increased 3.7 percent in April at newspapers published by Knight Ridder, the nation’s second largest newspaper publisher, the company said today.

Total advertising revenue was up 1.1 percent last month and up 1.8 percent year-to-date. Total classified advertising was up 5.4 percent in April.

Within classified, recruitment was up 15.7 percent for the month. All newspapers had increases in help wanted, including 20 with double-digit gains, a sign the economy is strengthening.

San Jose, Calif., was up 25.7 percent; Contra Costa County, Calif., was up 22.6 percent; Miami was up 18.5 percent; Fort Worth, Texas, was up 16.8 percent; Charlotte, N.C., was up 15.8 percent; Kansas City was up 13.6 percent; and Philadelphia was up 3.3 percent. The 16 smallest papers collectively were up 21.2 percent.

“We were pleased with the continued strength in help wanted and real estate classified advertising. All newspapers showed year-over-year increases in employment,” Knight Ridder CFO Gary Effren said.

For the month of April, total ad revenue was up 9.9 percent in St. Paul, Minn., 7.7 percent in Fort Wayne, Ind., 2.5 percent in Fort Worth, Texas, 2.1 percent in Kansas City, 0.9 percent in Charlotte, N.C., 0.8 percent in Philadelphia and 0.2 percent in Miami. San Jose, Calif., was soft.

Classified was up 13.5 percent in St. Paul, 10 percent in Lexington, Ky., 9.7 percent in Kansas City, 7.6 percent in Miami, 7.4 percent in Fort Worth, 5.7 percent in Charlotte, 3.4 percent in Contra Costa and 2.2 percent in Philadelphia. San Jose was soft.

San Jose, Calif.-based Knight Ridder publishes 31 daily newspapers in 28 U.S. markets. The company’s Internet operation, Knight Ridder Digital, develops and manages the company’s online properties. It is the founder and operator of RealCities.com, a network of city and regional Web sites in more than 100 U.S. markets.

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