Illinois adds 8,600 jobs in January, but still missing 200,100 from pandemic

Illinois adds 8,600 jobs in January, but still missing 200,100 from pandemic

Illinois’ employment recovery continued in January, but the state remains far from a full recovery and still lags the nation.

Illinois added 8,600 jobs from mid-December through mid-January, marking the eighth consecutive month of job gains, according to data released March 14 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

January jobs growth was the weakest recorded monthly figure for Illinois since August 2021, when the state posted gains of just 4,800 jobs.

Virtually all industries experienced job gains during the month. The largest gains came in the professional and business services sector, which added 11,100 jobs.

Manufacturing payrolls expanded by 3,200; government added 1,500 jobs; trade, transportation and utilities gained 600 jobs; educational and health services increased payrolls by 400 jobs; other services grew by 400 jobs; and the information sector added 100 jobs.

Both the mining and the financial activities sectors’ payrolls were unchanged over the month.

The big loser was the construction industry, suffering a drop of 7,100 jobs. Leisure and hospitality payrolls also shrank by 1,600. These job losses are particularly concerning as nearly all industries are missing jobs compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Leisure and hospitality payrolls are down the most in Illinois since before the pandemic. Leisure and hospitality is still missing 84,000 jobs, and on net is responsible for 42% of the jobs Illinois is still missing.

Before January, the construction industry was on the brink of a full employment recovery, down only 100 jobs compared to January 2020. Now the industry is missing 7,200 jobs after large losses in January 2022.

In total, Illinois is still missing 200,100 jobs since before COVID-19 hit. The state has only recovered 76% of the jobs it had at the onset of the pandemic, one of the lowest rates in the nation.

While it is clear Illinois’ 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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