Illinois adds 12,800 jobs in May, still missing 136,400 from pandemic

Illinois adds 12,800 jobs in May, still missing 136,400 from pandemic

Illinois’ employment recovery continued in May, but the state is still missing nearly one in six jobs lost during the pandemic.

Illinois added 12,800 jobs from mid-April through mid-May, marking one year of consecutive monthly job gains. However, the state’s unemployment rate at 4.6% remains the highest in the Midwest and the fifth-highest nationally.

April jobs growth was also revised to show gains of just 6,400, rather than the 9,300 originally estimated, according to data released June 15 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Nearly all major industries experienced job gains during the month. The largest gains came from the leisure and hospitality sector, which grew payrolls by 6,000 during the month.

Education and health services accumulated an additional 3,300 jobs; construction gained 2,600 positions; the information sector added 2,500 jobs; financial activities employment grew by 800 jobs; government payrolls expanded by 700; and manufacturing added 500 jobs.

However, several industries also shed jobs. Mining lost 100 jobs; other services payrolls declined by 800; and trade, transportation and utilities lost 800 jobs during May.

Professional and business services were able to stabilize their payrolls from April to May after losing 12,200 jobs between March and April – the most of any major sector. Unfortunately, May marked the third consecutive month of job losses for Illinois’ mining and trade, transportation and utilities industries.

Despite monthly growth in total payrolls during the past year, Illinois is still missing 136,400 jobs relative to pre-pandemic levels, with the missing jobs being spread across virtually every industry.

Leisure and hospitality payrolls are down 58,400 jobs, the most of any sector and account for 36% of the state’s total missing jobs. Meanwhile, the government and education and health sectors also make up a large chunk of Illinois’ missing jobs, down 40,400 and 32,600 jobs respectively.

Only the trade, transportation and utilities, and professional and business services sectors have recovered the job losses suffered at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and state-mandated shutdowns.

Illinois’ employment recovery, crippled by COVID-19 losses and strict mandates, severely lags the rest of the nation, continued losses will further delay recovery. In the past two months, three major corporationsBoeing, Caterpillar, and Citadel - have all announced that they would be relocating company headquarters out of Illinois. U.S. Steel is also selling assets at its Granite City Works, which may result in 1,000 lost jobs.

Making matters worse, 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 control the state’s cost drivers and deliver the services taxpayers expect for their dollars. Amendment 1 ensures those challenges will increase.

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