Champaign-Urbana loses 5,300 jobs in February as most Illinois metros gain

Champaign-Urbana loses 5,300 jobs in February as most Illinois metros gain

Illinois posted job growth of 19,600 in February, with bigger payrolls in 10 of 14 Illinois-based metropolitan areas.

Illinois added 19,600 jobs from mid-January through mid-February, marking the ninth consecutive month of job gains.

February growth was spread across 10 of the 14 Illinois-based metropolitan areas, according to data released April 1 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. While the largest numeric increase came from Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights metro, which added 13,700 jobs, the largest percentage increase came from Decatur, which grew payrolls by 0.6%, or 300 jobs.

Other metro areas growing during the month were Lake County-Kenosha County, adding 2,200 jobs; Davenport-Moline-Rock Island expanded payrolls by 700; Peoria grew by 600 jobs; Elgin also added 600 jobs; Rockford job counts increased by 400; while Kankakee, Cape Girardeau and Danville each added 100 jobs.

The St. Louis metro area, which includes portions of eastern Illinois but is predominately outside of the state, grew payrolls by 6,200.

Carbondale-Marion and Springfield payrolls remained unchanged compared to January’s count.

The biggest drop was in Champaign-Urbana, which lost 5,300 jobs (4.4%) during the month. Bloomington also shed 500 jobs.

Bloomington was previously the only metro area in Illinois to have fully recovered payrolls compared to pre-pandemic peaks. But job losses in February pushed the area back into the red. No metro area in Illinois has recovered their early-2020 job losses.

Statewide, only 79% of the jobs lost in early 2020 have returned, one of the lowest rates in the nation. Bloomington, Springfield, Carbondale-Marion and Lake County-Kenosha County are the most recovered areas of the state and have each recovered at least 90% of the job losses felt at the onset of the pandemic. Cape Girardeau, Elgin, Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights and Davenport-Moline-Rock Island are also outperforming the statewide recovery.

Meanwhile, Peoria, Rockford, Decatur, Champaign-Urbana, Danville and Kankakee are trailing the Illinois recovery. The recovery has been particularly sluggish in Kankakee, which has only recovered one-third 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’ $317 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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