Illinois job opening rate 4th-lowest in nation

Illinois job opening rate 4th-lowest in nation

Workers looking for a job find fewer opportunities in Illinois than in virtually any other state.

Illinois is currently battling one of the slowest economic recoveries, still missing more than 250,000 jobs since the pandemic began and facing some of the highest unemployment rates in the nation.

Making matters worse for the 333,100 Illinoisans actively looking for work, the state’s job opening rate is fourth-lowest in the nation, according to data released Feb. 17 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The data indicates there aren’t as many jobs in Illinois as there are in 46 other states.

Only Washington, New York and Delaware have worse job opening rates than Illinois.

The state’s lack of job openings in comparison to other states has reduced the bargaining power of workers in Illinois. They may receive more generous pay and benefits in other states that are more desperate for workers. Those wanting to find work in Illinois are also having a harder time finding openings.

The national economy is currently experiencing one of the greatest labor shortages in recorded history, and national job openings continue to hover around record highs. Illinois isn’t showing many signs of a labor shortage.

Prior to the pandemic, when the U.S. economy was considered to be at full employment, the ratio of unemployed to job openings hovered around 0.8 job seekers per job opening. As of December 2021, that number had declined to 0.6 job seekers per job opening nationally, the lowest number since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began reporting the monthly data in 2000.

But Illinois has a ratio of 0.84 unemployed workers per job opening, on par with the pre-pandemic state and U.S. economy and nowhere near the massive labor shortage seen in other states. That shouldn’t be taken as a positive sign for Illinois’ labor market. It is a bad byproduct of high levels of unemployment and low levels of job openings.

While employers are relieved there is less competition for workers in Illinois than other states, relatively few job openings also indicates Illinois has become a state where it is hard to conduct business. If Illinois hopes to recover its pandemic-related job losses, the state will need to encourage employers to hire.

One good place to start would be to simplify Illinois’ regulatory code, which is the third-most cumbersome in the nation.

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