Illinois adds jobs in April, still missing 146,300 from pandemic

Illinois adds jobs in April, still missing 146,300 from pandemic

Illinois’ employment recovery continued in April, but the state is still missing almost one in five jobs lost during the pandemic.

Illinois’ unemployment rate remained the highest in the Midwest, despite adding 9,300 jobs from mid-March through mid-April and seeing the unemployment rate drop from 4.7% to 4.6%.

April marked the 11th consecutive month of job gains. The state unemployment rate has been decreasing since December 2021. But Illinois is still missing 146,300 jobs since before the pandemic.

March job growth was also revised downward to show gains of 17,200, rather than the 18,300 originally estimated, according to new data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Over half of all major industries experienced job gains during the month. The largest gains by both numerical change and percent change came from the leisure and hospitality sector, which grew payrolls by 7,300 (or 1.3%) during the month.

Manufacturing grew payrolls by 5,700; educational and health services accumulated an additional 3,500 jobs; government payrolls expanded by 3,400; construction job numbers grew by 2,700; and other services payrolls grew by 1,800.

There were several industries that shed jobs during the month, however. The information sector lost 100 jobs; trade, transportation and utilities lost 1,700 jobs; financial activities payrolls shrank by 2,200; and professional and business services lost 11,100 jobs during April. Additionally, mining and logging job numbers remained unchanged from March.

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 virtually every industry.

Leisure and hospitality payrolls remain down the greatest number of jobs, missing 65,300 jobs and accounting for 45% of the state’s total missing jobs. The government and educational and health services sectors are also missing approximately 40,000 jobs each; manufacturing and other services payrolls are still down by roughly 10,000 jobs each; financial activities payrolls are 6,500 below pre-pandemic levels; construction is missing 4,800 positions; information payrolls are down by 1,500 jobs; and the mining and logging sector is still missing 1,100 jobs.

Meanwhile, trade, transportation and utilities payrolls are higher by 12,800; and professional and business services have added 18,700 jobs in Illinois since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Illinois’ laggard recovery and high number of missing jobs has left the state with one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation. The state’s 4.6% unemployment rate is highest in the Midwest.

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’ $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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