Most Illinois metro areas shed jobs in June, await pandemic recovery

Most Illinois metro areas shed jobs in June, await pandemic recovery

Despite statewide job gains in June, eight of Illinois’ metro areas lost jobs for the month. Most areas still haven’t recovered to pre-pandemic job levels.

Despite Illinois adding 8,400 jobs overall in June, data shows most of its metropolitan areas shed jobs during the month: eight of the 15 areas lost jobs.

Elgin had the largest job decline, losing 1,500 jobs. Springfield and Decatur each lost 400 jobs, as did the Lake County-Kenosha County area, which is primarily within Illinois but includes part of Wisconsin. Peoria and Rockford each lost 300 jobs, while Kankakee lost 200 and Bloomington lost 100.

Illinois job gains in June were heavily concentrated in the Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights area, which saw an increase of 5,800 jobs. The St. Louis area – which is located primarily outside of Illinois – gained 8,000 jobs. The Davenport-Moline-Rock Island area, which is primarily within Illinois but stretches into Iowa, added 700 jobs. Danville added 600 jobs and Carbondale-Marion added 100, while Cape Girardeau, primarily within Missouri, added 300. Champaign-Urbana saw no change.

Illinois’ metro areas have also struggled to recover jobs lost during the pandemic. Only seven of the 15 metro areas in the state have surpassed their January 2020 job levels. Eight areas have yet to recover to pre-pandemic levels but are on track to do so in the coming months. The state’s slow recovery of jobs conflicts with the narratives state leaders have been pushing about Illinois’ economic progress.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker recently claimed Illinois is making progress toward being “one of the best states in the nation” for jobs and business. Yet Illinois continues to lag the rest of the nation. The state’s unemployment rate is fifth-worst in the nation, and Illinois remains one of just 13 states with fewer jobs than it had in January 2020 before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Worse, most unemployment rates for the 13 metropolitan statistical areas in Illinois remained among the worst in the nation in June. Eleven of the 13 areas, including every area primarily located in Illinois, ranked among the bottom 100 out of the 389 areas measured by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The only two areas to ranked above the bottom 100 nationally are the St. Louis and Cape Girardeau areas, which are both primarily located in Missouri rather than Illinois. The 11 areas in the bottom 100 – each primarily located in Illinois – all had unemployment rates worse than the state’s 4% rate for June. Neighbors’ economies are boosting some Illinois metro areas. Neighboring Wisconsin, Missouri and Iowa all have much lower unemployment rates than Illinois, between 2.5% and 2.7%. Those rates rank among the best in the nation compared to Illinois being among the worst.

Major businesses continue to leave Illinois, yet state leaders continue to push high taxes and heavy regulations. According to the Tax Foundation, Illinois’ business tax climate has dropped from 29th to 36th in the nation since 2018. In contrast, every state bordering Illinois has improved its ranking over that period.

Growing the economy and creating jobs throughout the state will require a new approach from Illinois’ leaders – one that focuses on providing tax relief to workers and job creators rather than taxing them out of the state.

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