Chicago lags as 8 of 13 Illinois metro areas add jobs in April

Chicago lags as 8 of 13 Illinois metro areas add jobs in April

Illinois grew jobs in eight of its 13 metropolitan areas during April, but the Chicago area’s sluggish growth and a stubbornly high unemployment rate tempered any gains.

Illinois’ job market is off to slow start in 2024, with the greater Chicago area lagging other Illinois metropolitan areas as well as most large urban areas nationally.

The Chicago metro area gained 2,300 jobs, ranking 8th among Illinois metro areas from March to April 2024. It was 25th among the 35 largest metro areas in the country.

April saw 8 of 13 Illinois metro areas adding jobs for an overall increase of 9,500 jobs statewide, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

State employment growth slightly exceeded the national economy, but Illinois unemployment was also higher than the national rate. Illinois reported 0.13% more jobs in April, compared to 0.11% growth nationwide. Unemployment was at 4.8% in Illinois, compared to the U.S. rate of 3.9% during April.

Employment gains were most heavily concentrated in the St. Louis metro area, which is mainly a Missouri population.

Taking a longer view, nine Illinois metro areas added jobs in the 12 months through April. Seven reported higher employment than before the COVID-19 pandemic. Only one metro outperformed the U.S. job recovery rate: Bloomington at 6.9%, compared to 4.1% nationwide.

Illinois’ sluggish jobs recovery from the pandemic has been further complicated by population loss continuing to hit communities across the state. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows Illinois lost 32,826 residents in 2023, marking the state’s 10th consecutive year of population decline.

Historically, high taxes have been the No. 1 reason Illinoisans considered leaving the state. The Illinois Policy Institute’s Lincoln Poll in 2023 substantiated that reason.

Recent income tax hikes have already fostered an environment in Illinois that makes it harder for Illinoisans to find work and reduces wage growth prospects for those who are employed. Now Gov. J.B. Pritzker wants to cut $45 from each family of four’s state income tax exemption to balance his record $52.7 billion budget. Rising income and property taxes have made housing less affordable in Illinois and reduced returns on housing investment relative to other states.

Illinois must focus on strengthening its fiscal positionremoving regulatory burdens, and providing real tax relief both to workers who are already finding it difficult to remain and to job creators who are desperately trying to stay.

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