10 Illinois metro areas gain jobs, only 1 recovers from pandemic

10 Illinois metro areas gain jobs, only 1 recovers from pandemic

Only Bloomington has recouped early 2020 job losses, which is bad news for Illinois’ lagging economy as recession fears increase.

Illinois added 18,800 jobs from mid-May through mid-June, marking the 13th consecutive month of job gains for the state, but the recovery is slower than it ought to be.

June jobs growth was spread across 10 of the 15 metropolitan areas that contain parts of Illinois, according to data released July 28 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  While the largest numeric increase came from the Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights metro, which added 10,300 jobs, the largest percentage increase came from Bloomington, which grew payrolls by 0.86% or 800 jobs during the month.

Other metros to grow during the month were Lake County-Kenosha County, which added 1,700 jobs; Carbondale-Marion grew payrolls by 300 positions; Davenport-Moline-Rock Island and Peoria expanded by 200 jobs; while Danville and Springfield added 100 jobs each.

Champaign-Urbana and Decatur payrolls remained unchanged during the month.

Meanwhile, three metros lost jobs in June. Elgin shed 900 jobs, while Rockford lost 300 positions and Kankakee payrolls declined by 100 jobs. June marked the second consecutive month of payroll declines in Kankakee and Elgin.

The St. Louis and Cape Girardeau metro areas – which are predominantly located outside of Illinois – added 6,000 and 100 jobs in June, respectively.

Despite continued growth in payrolls as a whole, Illinois is still missing 117,000 jobs relative to pre-pandemic levels, with the missing jobs being spread across every metro area. As of June, only Bloomington has recovered from early 2020 job losses.

Only 86% of 2020 job losses have been recouped statewide since the recovery began, less than any neighboring state except Wisconsin. However, some areas of the state have fared better than others. Carbondale-Marion, Springfield, Lake County-Kenosha County and Davenport-Moline-Rock Island have each regained more than 90% of the jobs lost in early 2020. Cape Girardeau’s recovery is on pace with Illinois’ statewide average, having recouped 86% of job losses as of June.

Meanwhile, Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights, St. Louis, Elgin, Rockford, Peoria, Decatur, Champaign-Urbana, Danville, and Kankakee are all trailing the Illinois recovery. The recovery has been particularly sluggish in Kankakee, which has only recovered 38% of 2020 job losses.

Now, many experts are concerned the nation is on the brink of – or may already be in – a recession. If that is the case, Illinoisans could be in for a particularly tough downturn, as job openings are falling most rapidly here and the state is already battling the highest unemployment rate in the Midwest.

The Federal Reserve recently announced plans to hike interest rates for the fourth time this year in an effort to combat rampant inflation. Despite rising interest rates, inflation has continued to remain higher than expected – up 9.1% from a year ago. The national economy shrank by 0.9% during the second quarter of 2022, according to preliminary data released July 28 by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. That is traditionally a key indicator of a recession. The combination of these factors is bad for future economic prospects. The U.S. labor market might not be able to sustain its recovery because of these challenges.

However, Illinois could still be more susceptible to a potential economic downturn as businesses and residents flee. Three major corporations – BoeingCaterpillar and Citadel – all announced in the past two months they would be relocating their company headquarters out of Illinois. And a record exodus driving population decline threatens to prevent the state’s economy from ever returning to pre-pandemic employment levels.

The first step to ensure Illinoisans don’t endure a particularly painful future economic downturn will be for voters to take a hard look at Amendment 1 on the Nov. 8 ballot. Amendment 1 would change the Illinois Constitution to grant unions in Illinois more extreme powers than they have in any other state, including the ability to bargain over virtually limitless subjects, the ability to override state law through their contracts and a guarantee taxpayers and lawmakers would have an extremely difficult time reversing course.

Should Amendment 1 pass, Illinois’ $313 billion pension debt would continue to balloon as state and local taxes, which are already among the highest in the nation, rise in an attempt to keep up. The proposal would guarantee a $2,100 property tax increase for the typical Illinois homeowner, according to Illinois Policy Institute projections. Spending on vital programs would continue to fall. Illinois’ housing and labor markets are already suffering as high taxes and reduced services make finding a job and living in the state tenuous. These problems would be exacerbated should the U.S. enter a prolonged recession.

Illinois needs reform that will control the state’s cost drivers and deliver vital support to taxpayers when they need it the most. Amendment 1 ensures those challenges worsen during periods of economic duress.

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