Maine’s real estate sector has strengthened over the last year and shows prospects for further improvement, according to the Maine Real Estate & Development Association.

A statewide index compiled for the trade association factors in residential and commercial real estate market trends and construction employment. The most recent index update, released Tuesday, rose to 78 from 77 in January.

That gain marked the second consecutive increase on the index scale since the association and its partners began tracking the data. The MEREDA Index is compiled quarterly, starting with the first quarter of 2006.

The index has risen by 2.4 percent since the first quarter of 2013, driven by strength in the residential market, which offset a slight drop in commercial activity, the association said. Construction employment has started to recover slowly.

Compared with the first quarter of 2013, the residential market is up 7 percent, while the commercial market has declined 1 percent. Construction employment increased by 0.5 percent over the same period.

“The economy is certainly turning around,” said Drew Sigfridson, the association’s president, at its annual spring conference Tuesday in Portland.

The MEREDA Index was derived from several economic indicators representing various aspects of real estate and construction activity, including commercial and residential property sales, construction employment, lease rates, mortgage loan originations and vacancy rates.

The sectors are weighted to reflect their importance to the real estate market. Commercial real estate indicators comprise 50 percent of the index, residential real estate is 40 percent, and construction activity is 10 percent.

The MEREDA Index is published twice annually in partnership with Charles Colgan, professor of public policy and management at the University of Southern Maine’s Muskie School of Public Service.