Illinois’ unemployment rate tied for 3rd-worst in U.S.
Illinois’ unemployment rate tied for third-worst in the U.S. in December 2023, despite job gains across most industries since last year. Illinois continues to lag the nation and nearly all its neighbors in job growth.
Illinois’ unemployment rate tied for 3rd-worst in the U.S. in December 2023, with 4.8% of the state’s workforce unemployed, according to new data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Illinois’ unemployment rate continued to exceed the national average of 3.7% in December. It was higher than in any neighboring state.
Illinois gained 57,800 jobs between December 2023 and December 2022, ranking 42nd among U.S. states for non-farm job growth at 0.9%. Nationwide, states added 2.7 million jobs during that time, growing by 1.7%.
Illinois’ private education and health services and federal government sectors reported the largest net increases in employment.
Meanwhile, Illinois’ professional and business services sector led the state in job losses during the 12-month period, reporting 25,900 fewer positions than a year earlier.
While Illinois saw modest gains across more than half of its industries, the state continued to lag the national economy as well as most neighboring states.
Illinois reported the second worst job growth rate among neighboring states from December 2022 to December 2023 at 0.9%. Kentucky reported the strongest job growth at 2.4%.
Illinois’ job recovery rate since the pandemic also ranked second worst among its neighboring states and 40th in the nation, with state job sectors adding 4,000 more jobs than were available in January 2020.
Illinois’ sluggish jobs recovery from the pandemic has been further complicated by population loss continuing to hit communities across the state. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows Illinois lost 32,826 residents in 2023, marking the state’s 10th consecutive year of population decline.
While the Illinois economy is adding jobs, the state’s sluggish labor market has yielded slow payroll growth and an unemployment rate that is substantially higher than most other states.
Illinois remains ill-prepared for future recessions, with its budget weighed down by massive pension debt and high tax volatility, among other factors. The city of Chicago by itself has more pension debt than 44 entire states.
In order to keep growing the economy and creating jobs, Illinois must focus on strengthening its fiscal position, removing regulatory burdens, and providing real tax relief to workers and job creators.