Workforce shrinks, manufacturing still on decline


From Illinois Policy Institute
With Staff Reports

Illinois’ unemployment rate remained at 6 percent in April, according to the Thursday economic release from the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES).

The jobs report showed weakness across the state’s economy, except for a pocket of strength in professional and business services. The number of people working in Illinois fell by 7,400 which was accounted for by the state’s workforce shrinking by 8,000.

Meanwhile, the number of people unemployed in Illinois fell by 500, which was also accounted for by the shrinking workforce.

Month-over-month changes in payroll jobs showed a gain of 4,800 payroll jobs, according to IDES, driven by a gain of 8,200 jobs in professional and business services. Other areas of strength were education and health services (+1,100), and other services (+1,400).

The heaviest losses came in financial activities (-2,400) and manufacturing (-1,200). Other payroll jobs losses came from construction (-800); government (-700); information (-500); leisure and hospitality (-200); and mining (-100).

Two particular pain points stuck out from the April jobs report that have become consistent problems for the Illinois economy. The first is the further decline in the state’s workforce, which shrank by 8,000 people month-over-month. That means Illinois has a new record number of working-age adults out of the workforce.

As a result, Illinois’ workforce participation rate fell to a new 37-year low at 64.5 percent. The state’s workforce participation rate has been in collapse since the Great Recession started causing job losses in January 2008, and has fallen by 4.3 percentage points, more than any other Midwestern state in the same time period.

The second pain point is equally concerning: Illinois’ consistent loss of manufacturing jobs. Illinois had a brief manufacturing jobs recovery after the Great Recession, which ended in July 2012. Since then, Illinois has lost manufacturing jobs in 24 of the last 33 months, including all four months of 2015. Illinois has seen a net loss of 4,600 manufacturing jobs this year alone.

Employment firm says city’s prospects good

Meanwhile, online employment firm ZipRecruiter has ranked the Rockford area  number 16 on its list of top Midwest cities for jobs.

The firm cites the growth of productions facilities such as the Chrysler Assembly Plant in Belvidere and UTC Aerospace Systems in Rockford.

ZipRecruiter says the five fields expected to see the most growth in the area are manufacturing/operations; healthcare; trucking and transport; engineering; and accounting and finance positions.

Rockford ranked just behind the Bloomington/Normal area and ahead of nearby Appleton, Wisconsin.

Other areas of Illinois to make the list including the greater St. Louis metropolitan area as well as Chicagoland, encompassing an area from northwest Indiana up to the Wisconsin border.


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