Rockford suffers worst month of job loss in nation

Rockford suffers worst month of job loss in nation

Eight of 13 Illinois-based metro areas lost jobs in April.

Illinois’ jobs growth came to a grinding halt in April amid a national slowdown in the labor market recovery. The state added just 300 jobs from mid-March through mid-April, and shed 4,000 private-sector jobs during the month.

The majority of Illinois-based metropolitan areas – 8 out of 13 – shed jobs during the month. Rockford lost 3.2% of its payroll positions, the worst in the nation and a total of 4,500 jobs.

The Carbondale-Marion area suffered the next heaviest losses in April, losing 500 (-0.9%) jobs; Peoria lost 1,100 (-0.7%) positions; Champaign-Urbana payrolls shed 700 (-0.6%) jobs; Davenport-Moline-Rock Island payrolls shrank by 800 (-0.5%); Lake County-Kenosha County jobs declined by 1,200 (-0.3%); Springfield payrolls shed 200 (-0.2%) positions; while Bloomington lost 100 (0.1%) jobs. Kankakee payroll figures remained unchanged over the month.

It wasn’t all bad news across metro areas in April. Decatur payrolls grew by 500 (+1.1%); Danville added 200 (0.8%) jobs; Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights grew payrolls by 11,800 (+0.3%); and Elgin added 300 (0.1%) jobs during the month.

Weak labor market performance relative to other states is something Illinois has had to contend with for much of the past year.

Job losses peaked in April 2020 amid COVID-19 and state-mandated shutdowns. In the year since, Illinois has added among the fewest jobs in the nation. Illinois ranks 44th in the nation in jobs growth since the recovery began at the end of April 2020.

Across metropolitan areas, jobs growth was also weak relative to other states. Again, most notably, Kankakee added the 12th fewest jobs in the nation among the 389 metropolitan areas.


Springfield payrolls grew by 8,900 (+9.5%) from April 2020 to April 2021; Carbondale-Marion added 4,500 (+9%); Champaign-Urbana added 9,300 jobs (+8.9%); Davenport-Moline-Rock Island added 13,700 (+8.5%) positions; Lake County-Kenosha County grew by 30,900 (+8.4%) jobs; Elgin added 18,700 (+8.4) jobs; Danville grew payrolls by 2,000 (8.2%) positions; Bloomington added 5,700 (7%) jobs; Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights added 230,700 (+7%) jobs; Peoria grew payrolls by 10,100 (+6.8%); Rockford added 7,600 (+6%) positions; Decatur grew jobs by 2,500 (5.6%); and Kankakee added 1,700 (+4.2%).

Employment levels in Illinois remain 424,800 below their pre-pandemic peak in January 2020, meaning Illinois has regained fewer than half the jobs it lost during the pandemic. As a result, Illinois is battling one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation.

Unfortunately for those Illinoisans still out of work, Illinois lawmakers passed a $42.3 billion budget that contains a $655 million tax hike, while still remaining unbalanced.

Instead of continuing to repeat past mistakes, Illinois should improve its finances and continue to provide core services mainly by implementing constitutional pension reform. The Illinois Policy Institute is offering that along with other fiscal fixes that can give overburdened Illinois taxpayers a path to declining debt, lower taxes and more effective state government.

Illinois needs its labor markets to improve so the state can create more jobs and grow the tax base, not to pass more and higher taxes that cost the state more jobs and residents.

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