5 Illinois metro areas await pandemic recovery, most add jobs in December
Seven of 13 Illinois metro areas added jobs from November to December 2023, led by the St. Louis area. Five metros still reported fewer jobs than prior to the pandemic.
New data shows 7 of 13 Illinois metro areas added jobs in December 2023, an increase of 1,600 jobs statewide, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The Carbondale-Marion metro area saw the largest percentage increase in non-farm employment, growing 0.52% since November. Leading the losses was the Champaign-Urbana area, by both percentage and raw number.
Despite modest gains across most Illinois metro areas, state job growth continued to lag the national economy. Illinois added just 0.02% more jobs in December, compared to 0.14% nationwide.
Job gains were most heavily concentrated in the St. Louis metro area, which saw an increase of 1,700 jobs. Most of the jobs added were likely outside of Illinois, because most of the area and population falls within Missouri. Nearly 4 out of every 10 new jobs gained during the past month came from that area.
The Chicago metro area’s gains ranked seventh among Illinois metro areas from November 2023 to December 2023 and 27th among the 35 largest metro areas in the country.
Overall, eight Illinois metro areas added jobs since last December and reported higher employment than before the COVID-19 pandemic. Two metros outperformed the U.S. job recovery rate: Bloomington at 4.53% and Danville at 3.76%, compared to 3.38% nationwide.
Illinois employment growth exceeded pre-pandemic levels but trailed behind the national economy, with the state adding 0.37% more jobs. Five areas continued to report fewer jobs than nearly four years ago.
Illinois’ sluggish jobs recovery from the pandemic has been complicated by population loss. Illinois lost 32,826 residents in 2023, marking the state’s 10th consecutive year of population decline, Census data shows.
While the Illinois economy is adding jobs, the state’s sluggish labor market has yielded slow payroll growth and an unemployment rate that is substantially higher than most other states.
Illinois remains ill-prepared for future recessions, with its budget weighed down by massive pension debt and high tax volatility, among other factors. The city of Chicago by itself has more pension debt than 44 entire states.
In order to keep growing the economy and creating jobs, Illinois must focus on strengthening its fiscal position, removing regulatory burdens, and providing real tax relief to workers and job creators.