Unemployment - Jobless Rate Drops To 6.2%

·        Jobless rate drops to 6.2%; Department of Employment Security (DES) monitors situation.  The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the civilian unemployment rate ticked down by 0.2% in December 2014, from 6.4% to 6.2%. The comparable rate twelve months ago, in December 2013, was 8.9%.  While progress from month to month has been slow, the overall 12-month drop of 2.7% in this key economic statistic signals more favorable economic conditions in much of Illinois, particularly the greater Chicago area.  A report published on Thursday, January 29 shows the job picture was especially good in Champaign-Urbana, Danville, and Lake County.  The numbers represented substantial improvements from Illinois’ jobless peak, 11.4% in January 2010.

Illinois has not yet fully recovered from the economic downturn that began in 2008.  The jobless number in December 2007 was 5.5%, with less than 368,000 civilians unemployed in Illinois.  At no time since 2008 have there been less than 400,000 jobless Illinois residents searching for a paycheck.  In addition, the total labor force and raw headcount of employed Illinoisans have fallen and not yet recovered.  In December 2007, after seasonal adjustment, more than 6.35 million Illinois residents were working and collecting a paycheck.  In December 2015, after eight years of technological advancement, Illinois’ ranks of employed people had dropped to 6,141,882, a net loss of more than 200,000 paychecks over the eight-year period.

Illinois unemployment and jobless-aid benefits are overseen by the Department of Employment Security (IDES). Newly-appointed Director Jeff Mays and his team operate Illinois JobLink, the recently-installed automated system to match Illinois job-seekers with positions wanted.  The translation of DES’s job-matching capabilities to an automated platform is one of the factors that has enabled the Department to reduce its operating budget by 26 percent over a four-year period from FY12 to FY15.