8 Illinois metro areas fail to add jobs in April; just 1 recovers from pandemic

8 Illinois metro areas fail to add jobs in April; just 1 recovers from pandemic

Illinois’ overall job numbers continue to rise, but the recovery is spotty. Over half of the metropolitan areas failed to add jobs in April.

Illinois added 9,300 jobs from mid-March through mid-April, marking the 11th consecutive month of job gains for the state, but the recovery is far from equal across the state when metropolitan areas are examined.

Of the 15 metro areas that cover Illinois, eight failed to gain jobs in April, according to data recently released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. By both numerical change and percent change, the metro area with the greatest job growth in April was Davenport-Moline-Rock Island. It added 2,100 jobs for a 1.16% increase over March numbers.

Other metros growing payrolls during the month were Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights, with 1,400 new jobs; Bloomington, which grew payrolls by 400; Peoria, which added 300 positions; Kankakee and Decatur, whose job counts both increased by 200; and Champaign-Urbana, with 100 new jobs in April.

The Danville, Carbondale-Marion, and Rockford metro area payrolls remained unchanged from March to April. Additionally, the Cape Girardeau area, only a small part of which lies in Illinois, saw its job numbers remain unchanged from March.

A handful of metros lost jobs during the month. The Springfield area lost 200 jobs, Elgin metro area payrolls shrank by 500, and Lake County-Kenosha County jobs declined by 600.

The St. Louis metro area – which is predominantly located outside of Illinois – shed 1,600 jobs. This is the second consecutive month in which its payrolls have shrunk.

Despite continued growth in payrolls as a whole, Illinois is still missing 146,300 jobs relative to pre-pandemic levels, with the missing jobs being spread across nearly every metro area. Bloomington is the only metro area in the state to recover from early 2020 job losses.

Statewide, only 82% of 2020 job losses have been recouped since the recovery began, one of the lowest rates in the nation. However, some areas of the state have fared better than others. Bloomington, Springfield, and Carbondale-Marion have each regained more than 90% of the jobs lost in early 2020. Lake County-Kenosha County, Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, and Cape Girardeau are also outperforming the statewide recovery.

Meanwhile, Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights, Elgin, St. Louis, 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 43% of 2020 job losses.

While it is clear Illinois’ uneven employment recovery severely lags the rest of the nation, what is far less clear is how the state can ever catch up. More than one-third of the workers who are still missing from Illinois’ workforce have likely retired. Making matters worse for Illinois, 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 stop the bleeding and reverse the state’s current trajectory 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 that taxpayers and lawmakers would have an extremely difficult time reversing course.

Should Amendment 1 pass, Illinois’ $313 billion pension debt will continue to balloon as state and local taxes, which are already among the highest in the nation, rise in an attempt to keep up. Spending on vital programs will 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.

Illinois needs reform that will rein in the state’s cost drivers and deliver services to residents in exchange for their tax dollars. Amendment 1 ensures those challenges will increase.

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