ILLINOIS UNEMPLOYMENT RISES AGAIN IN MARCH; STATE STILL ADDS 14,700 JOBS
The Illinois unemployment rate rose for the fifth straight month in March to 6.5 percent, but the state still added 14,700 new jobs.
The data from the Illinois Department of Employment Security shows Illinois falls above the national average for unemployment, which went up slightly last month to 5 percent. Overall, Illinois has the second-highest unemployment rate in the nation, after Alaska (6.6 percent) and tied with Washington D.C. and West Virginia. The Illinois unemployment rate was revised to 6.4 percent in February.
On the plus side, Illinois is one of 14 states that showed statistically significant, positive job gains between February and March. The state gained nearly 80,000 nonfarm jobs over the past year.
IDES analysts say the Illinois’ high unemployment rate is due to slow job growth and more people entering the workforce without immediately finding jobs. Unemployment rates only include people who are unemployed and actively looking for work, so those who have stopped searching aren’t included.
Senior economist at BMO Capital Markets Robert Kavcic told the Chicago Tribune the numbers may show fewer people have given up:
Despite the rise in the unemployment rate, “the good news is that recent gains reflect more people moving back into the labor force, and continued gains in the participation rate would suggest gradually firming underlying labor market trends,” Kavcic said.
While the leisure and hospitality industries saw the largest job gains in March, manufacturing was the hardest-hit, losing 3,100 jobs. Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Director Sean McCarthy says manufacturing has not bounced back since the recession — the industry lost 7,500 jobs over the past year.
“Unemployment in Illinois continues to rise as our state fails to keep pace with the rest of the country in job growth,” McCarthy said in a press statement. “Industries like manufacturing continue to struggle to regain jobs lost since 2008 — in March alone, 100 manufacturing jobs per day were lost; that’s 100 middle-class families every single day facing the financial stress, hardship and uncertainty of losing a well-paying job. We need to take action on structural reforms that will make Illinois as competitive as it should be to curb the loss of middle-class jobs.”
Here are the states with the highest unemployment rates in March 2016:
7) South Carolina
4) New Mexico
2) West Virginia
2) Washington D.C.