Illinois still missing 251,900 jobs since the pandemic began

Illinois still missing 251,900 jobs since the pandemic began

Despite adding 262,600 jobs in 2021, Illinois is still a long way off from a full recovery from the COVID-19 economic downturn.

Illinois’ recovery is still not what it should be, with 251,900 jobs still missing since the pandemic began despite adding 262,600 jobs in 2021.

The biggest 2021 gain was in the battered leisure and hospitality job sector, with 126,000 jobs added for a 31% increase, according to data released Jan. 21 by the Illinois Department of Employment Security. The data shows Illinois is making progress after the severe economic downturn that followed the COVID-19 pandemic and government mandated shutdowns. Virtually all industries saw growth in 2021, with only mining showing no growth and the financial services sector declining.

The areas of the economy most hurt by COVID-19 in 2020 were the areas of the economy to see the most job creation as government stimulus and pent-up demand drove personal consumption to hit all-time highs and economic restrictions were gradually eased.

However, Illinois is still a long way off of pre-pandemic job levels, with 251,900 jobs still missing since January 2020 when nonfarm payrolls peaked. While the effects of job losses are still being significantly felt in nearly every industry, the leisure and hospitality industry remains the farthest off a full recovery, still missing 95,700 jobs. Educational and health services remain down 54,800 jobs.

Only the construction (+6,100) and transportation, warehousing and utilities (+37,500) sectors have made full employment recoveries. Wholesale and retail trade, which are the other components of the trade, transportation and utilities sector, remain down 20,500 jobs collectively.

While politicians, most notably the Biden Administration, have tried to portray the 2021 figures as a monumental achievement in record economic growth, the fact is the nation, and particularly Illinois, remain in worse condition now than at the beginning of 2020. Only Texas, Arizona, Utah and Idaho have recouped their pandemic job losses.

Making matters even worse for Illinois, record outmigration and population decline threaten to prevent the state’s economy from ever returning to pre-pandemic employment levels.

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