Unemployment down, but indicators questionable

Illinois manufacturing head warns: ‘We could be headed for an economic slowdown’

SPRINGFIELD—Illinois’ unemployment rate fell a 10th of a point to 4.5 percent in June, slightly lower than the nation’s 4.6 percent rate. Unemployment in the Rockford area dropped to 5.5 percent in June, down from 6.2 percent at the same time in 2005, and the lowest June mark in six years.

For the first time in seven years, unemployment in Illinois was lower than the U.S. However, total unemployment in Illinois fell for the second straight month, recording a loss of 2,400 jobs as large job losses in government and other services payrolls shrank by more than 7,000. That follows a drop of 3,800 in May.

“Once again this month, it appears that thousands of frustrated Illinois workers are leaving the workforce unable to find a good job,” said Gregory W. Baise, president and CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association. “While the overall changes are relatively small, if the trend continues, we could be headed for an economic slowdown.”

Manufacturing employment continued its downward trend in June, according to Baise. An additional 400 workers were jettisoned from Illinois industry payrolls last month. The total number of workers in manufacturing now stands at 677,900. In the last 12 months, manufacturing has lost 10,600 jobs in Illinois. Since 2000, the state has lost 190,500 manufacturing jobs and now sits at its lowest levels in history.

“Manufacturers in Illinois were pleased that the candidates for governor of Illinois have begun giving attention this month to ways of increasing the number of jobs available to our workers,” Baise said. “We look forward to engaging in a spirited debate on how best to revive our proud industrial history and provide steady and good-paying work for our citizens in the months to come.”

From the Aug. 16-22, 2006, issue

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