State gains more than 14K jobs in March

By Hilary Gowins 
Illinois Policy

Illinois gained 14,700 jobs on net in March, according to a preliminary jobs report released by the Illinois Department of Employment Security, or IDES. March’s numbers mark three consecutive months of jobs growth in a state that had grown all too accustomed to job losses.

Illinois now has more jobs than it did during the Great Recession, but it still has fewer jobs than it did in the year 2000.

More and more Illinoisans are looking for work – and while many are finding jobs, too many remain unemployed.

Illinois’ labor force added 37,700 people in March, continuing to grow at a rapid rate. Of those who entered the workforce, 28,000 found work – 9,600 remained unemployed.

Illinois’ labor force has grown by approximately 160,000 since January 2015, which marked the recession-era bottom for the size of the state’s labor force. For the past year Illinois has seen a growing workforce, which has contributed to a rising unemployment rate. This appears to be the inverse of what happened in 2014, when the unemployment rate dropped largely because of labor-force drop out.

Continued workforce growth is good news – unfortunately, too many of those deciding to look for work again were unable to find it. This drove Illinois’ unemployment rate to rise to 6.5 percent in March from 6.4 percent in February.

Another continuing trend is the divergence of the service and manufacturing industries. While the leisure and hospitality sector gained 6,300 jobs – the most of any industry, by far – manufacturing suffered another month of losses, down 3,100 jobs on net on the month.

The leisure industry has been growing steadily for the last several years – and all jobs growth is good news. But it’s discouraging to see blue-collar work continue to decline.

While the March jobs report is positive – the state added jobs and increased employment – the news isn’t all good. The increase in net unemployment for the eighth month in a row shows that in spite of growth in the number of jobs, the economy is still unable to provide the necessary jobs for those seeking work.

Important information from the March jobs report from IDES includes:

  • Illinois added 14,700 jobs on net in March
  • With March’s job gains, Illinois has more than 6 million jobs for the first time since 2001, but is still below peak jobs levels in 2000.
  • Illinois’ unemployment rate increased to 6.5 percent in March, up from 6.4 percent in February.
  • Illinois employers added 9,600 people to the unemployment rolls in March, marking the eighth month in a row that Illinois has suffered a net increase in unemployed people.
  • The state’s labor force grew by 37,700 people; 28,000 of whom represented new employment.
  • The industries with the biggest jobs gains include:
    • Leisure and hospitality, which added 6,300 jobs
    • Construction, which added 4,100 jobs
    • The trade, transportation and utilities industry gained 2,800 jobs
  • The industries with the biggest job losses include:
    • Manufacturing, with 3,100 jobs lost
    • Professional and business services, with a loss of 1,400 jobs
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