Black Illinoisans hurt twice as much by worst year of job losses in state history

March 16, 2021

Monthly jobs tracker: Over 15% of Black Illinoisans lost their jobs during the pandemic.


MEDIA CONTACT: Melanie Krakauer (312) 607-4977

Black Illinoisans hurt twice as much by worst year of job losses in state history 
Monthly jobs tracker: Over 15% of Black Illinoisans lost their jobs during the pandemic. 

CHICAGO (March 16, 2021) – New federal data shows 2020 was worse in Illinois than previously estimated: Illinois lost an additional 70,000 jobs in 2020, bringing the year’s job total to nearly 500,000 during the year, analysis from the Illinois Policy Institute.

These losses disproportionately fell on minority workers, with Black Illinoisans seeing employment drop by 15.2% during the year. That was more than twice as much as white workers, who saw a 7.3% decline. Hispanic employment shrank by 8.4%.

In total over 113,000 Black Illinoisans and nearly 87,000 Hispanic Illinoisans have lost their jobs since the pandemic began.

Illinois’ monthly job numbers:

According to new Illinois Department of Employment Security data, Illinois added 9,700 jobs from mid-December to mid-January. These brought Illinois’ unemployment rate to 7.7%, higher than the national average of 6.3%.

However, minority Illinoisans were suffering higher unemployment than white counterparts or other workers nationally. The unemployment rate in January was 11.3% for Black Illinoisans and 10.6% for Hispanic Illinoisans compared to 6.4% for white Illinoisans.

The bulk of the January job gains came from the professional and business services sector, which added 11,500 jobs (+1.3%), with the leisure and hospitality sector adding 5,100 jobs (+1.3%) and other services gaining 2,400 jobs (+1.0%).

The sectors with the biggest declines were financial activities with 6,400 jobs lost (-1.6%), construction with 3,200 jobs lost (-1.4%); government with 1,800 job losses (-0.2%) and manufacturing with 500 jobs lost (-0.1%).

Bryce Hill, senior research analyst at the nonpartisan Illinois Policy Institute, offered the following statement

“The state has a long and painful economic recovery ahead. While the 2020 economic downturn has hurt all Illinoisans, Black Illinoisans are more than twice as likely than white Illinoisans to have lost their jobs.

“In order to help those most in need, Illinois must fix the root causes of job decline which have plagued the state even before the pandemic. Gov. J.B. Pritzker should prioritize spending controls and pension reform rather than pursuing nine new taxes worth nearly $1 billion that specifically damage job creation. His plan will hurt already-struggling job seekers.”

To read more about the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Illinois jobs, visit:

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