Illinois loses nearly 9,000 jobs on net in March; unemployment rate drops
Illinois lost jobs across several industries including construction, manufacturing, and professional and business services. The only employment category to see significant growth was leisure and hospitality.
Illinois lost 8,900 jobs on net in March, and the state also received news that major jobs gains from February were actually much smaller than original projections, according to a new release from the Illinois Department of Employment Security, or IDES. The IDES data are another sign of Illinois’ long slog of weak economic growth, and of vanishing opportunities for Illinoisans who cannot find a rewarding job to support their family.
Illinois’ unemployment rate did drop to 4.9 percent, the lowest level since June 2007. However, Illinois’ workforce has contracted over the last decade as working-age Illinoisans have fled the state.
March’s job losses make it a bad month for the state. And it gets worse: Illinois’ preliminary February jobs report showed a gain of 25,600 jobs. But monthly revisions brought that February gain down to only 14,800. New monthly payroll data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, is always subject to revisions one month later after more complete payroll jobs numbers come in, which accounts for the revision to Illinois’ February number.
Illinois payroll jobs summary
Illinois’ March payroll jobs data from the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) shows an overall loss of 8,900 jobs with the largest losses in construction (-7,100); professional and business services (-3,600); government (-1,900); and education and health services (-1,600). The only significant gain was in leisure and hospitality (+4,200).
Illinois’ initial February jobs data made it appear that the state had reached a new all-time high for total jobs. However, the February jobs count has since been revised down. As a result of the February revision and March loss of 8,900 jobs, Illinois still has 19,600 fewer jobs compared to the previous peak from September 2000.
All bordering states have added jobs since September 2000, with Indiana up 116,100 jobs; Iowa up 99,900 jobs; Kentucky up 122,200 jobs; Missouri up 121,100 jobs and Wisconsin up 113,600 jobs.
Illinois household survey summary
Illinois’ unemployment rate dropped dramatically in March to 4.9 percent from 5.4 percent. This improvement was largely for positive reasons, as the number of unemployed residents dropped by 29,500 and the number of employed residents rose by 26,100, according to the household phone survey.
Illinois’ unemployment rate is now the lowest it has been since June 2007. However, the total number of people working in Illinois has contracted by 116,500 since then. The workforce is smaller and the number of people working is lower, largely because of Illinois’ out-migration crisis.
Compared to a pre-recession peak in November 2007, Illinois now has 144,000 fewer people working.
The total number of people working in Illinois is also a long-term problem. The BLS’ household survey counts 6,176,100 total people working in Illinois today. This is 170,000 below Illinois’ peak from before the Great Recession. Illinois compares poorly with neighboring states on this metric, with most states around Illinois having more people working today than before the Great Recession.
Illinois has been losing a lot of residents to surrounding states, and data from multiple sources – including the IRS, BLS and Census Bureau – show that working-age adults are leaving Illinois fastest.
Working families in Illinois need to see progress or they will continue fleeing the state at record rates. Lawmakers need to pass a real, statewide property tax freeze to protect both beleaguered homeowners and business property owners. The state needs to pass a balanced budget without raising taxes. A plan to accomplish both of these goals has been proposed by the Illinois Policy Institute.
Lawmakers also need to tackle the state’s long-term debts and cut the red tape by enacting smart, fair regulations for Illinois businesses. If businesses can’t grow and invest in Illinois, then neither will jobs and families.