Improving unemployment rate excludes 238,000 Illinoisans who quit workforce

August 20, 2020

Illinois’ unemployment rate would be 15.1% if labor force dropouts were counted


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Improving unemployment rate excludes 238,000 Illinoisans who quit workforce 
Illinois’ unemployment rate would be 15.1% if labor force dropouts were counted

CHICAGO (Aug. 20, 2020) – While the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) today reported Illinois’ unemployment rate fell again in July to 11.3%, the state’s tally of unemployed workers masks an estimated 237,869 labor force dropouts who have given up their job searches entirely during the pandemic. Illinois Policy Institute analysis reveals the state’s July unemployment rate would have been 15.1%, or 34% percent higher than the state’s official estimate, had these Illinoisans been counted.

On top of the nearly 238,000 Illinoisans missing from the labor force, 705,600 Illinoisans remain unemployed. Illinois did add 93,200 jobs from mid-June to mid-July, continuing participation in the national jobs rebound from the COVID-19 downturn. However, Illinois is still well above the national unemployment rate of 10.2%.

Orphe Divounguy, chief economist at the nonpartisan Illinois Policy Institute, offered the following statement:  

“While growing payrolls mark signs of a continued recovery for the state amid the sharpest downturn in recorded history, we cannot ignore those who have been pushed out of the workforce completely. Prime working-age women, Illinois’ most skilled and productive workers, have dropped out of the labor force the most.

“The July numbers are a step in the right direction, but Illinois is still facing a slow, painful recovery. Instead of pushing voters to pass a $3.7 billion income tax hike that will further dampen the jobs market, Illinois must focus on policies to encourage would-be workers to return to the labor market.”

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

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