Illinois adds jobs in May, but in just over half of metro areas

Illinois adds jobs in May, but in just over half of metro areas

Despite a full year of job gains, all Illinois metropolitan areas are missing jobs since the pandemic began and the recovery stalled. While May brought job gains statewide, only eight metro areas saw gains while seven saw losses.

Illinois added 12,800 jobs from mid-April through mid-May, marking one year of consecutive job gains for the state. Not every area shared in the progress.

Just eight of the 15 metro areas that contain parts of Illinois experienced jobs growth in May, according to data recently released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights metro area saw the largest increase in raw numbers, adding 13,200 jobs – driving up the state average. Champaign-Urbana saw the largest percentage increase in jobs as payrolls grew 0.44%, or 500 jobs during the month.

Other metros which experienced growth included Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, adding 500 jobs; Elgin adding 400; and Kankakee, Danville, Carbondale-Marion and Decatur where job counts increased by 100.

Meanwhile, seven metros lost jobs in May. Bloomington lost the most as payrolls shrank by 700; followed by Peoria losing 500 jobs, Lake County-Kenosha County payrolls shrank by 400; Rockford lost 300 jobs; and Springfield jobs declined by 200.

May marked the second consecutive month of payroll declines in Bloomington, Rockford and Springfield. And Peoria became the only Illinois-based metro area to see consecutive declines during the past three months.

The St. Louis and Cape Girardeau metro areas – which are predominantly located outside of Illinois – shed 1,500 jobs and 100 jobs in May, respectively.

Despite continued growth in payrolls, Illinois is still missing 136,400 jobs relative to pre-pandemic levels. As of May, no metro area in the state has fully recovered pandemic job losses.

Only 84% of 2020 job losses have been recouped statewide since the recovery began, one of the lowest rates in the nation. However, some areas of the state have fared better than others.

Springfield, Lake County-Kenosha County, Bloomington and Carbondale-Marion have each regained more than 90% of the jobs lost in early 2020. Davenport-Moline-Rock Island and Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights are also outperforming the statewide recovery.

Meanwhile, St. Louis, Elgin, Cape Girardeau, Rockford, Peoria, Decatur, Champaign-Urbana, Danville and Kankakee are all trailing the Illinois recovery. Kankakee’s recovery has been particularly sluggish, only recovering 43% of 2020 job losses.

While it is clear Illinois’ employment recovery severely lags the rest of the nation, it remains unclear how the state can ever catch up. 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 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.

Want more? Get stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.

Thank you, we'll keep you informed!