Size of Illinois' labor force drops for third straight month
Illinois’ unemployment rate is down slightly in large part because of a decline in the state's labor force, according to the state's Department of Employment Security.
In releasing the latest figures, the Employment Security Department said the state's unemployment rate in July went down by 0.4 percent, to 5.8 percent.
"The largest gains were in education, they were up 5,400 jobs," Bob Gough, an Illinois Department of Employment Security spokesman, said. "Other services (were up) 4,200, and leisure and hospitality up 2,100. But we did have some significant drops in construction, going down 2,700 jobs, and the financial activities industry went down a thousand."
Other gains were seen in nonfarm payrolls, which increased by more than 11,600 jobs, according to the figures based on preliminary data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the state Employment Security Department.
"The decrease in Illinois’ unemployment rate is largely due to a decline in the labor force," the department said. "Job growth is still below the national average, with Illinois down 41,200 jobs short of its peak employment level reached in September 2000."
“We’ve seen growth in labor force participation over the last year, but over the last three months we’ve given too much of it back,” State Employment Security Department Director Jeff Mays said.
The drop in the state's labor force arrived only a few months after U.S. Census Bureau data released last spring indicated the population in the majority of Illinois' large cities is dramatically on the decline.
"These numbers are a very scary signal," Ted Dabrowski, vice president of policy at the Illinois Policy Institute, told the Madison-St. Clair Record in May. "People have choices, they don't have to stay and endure these conditions. If they can find an opportunity elsewhere, they will go."
Similar concerns were voiced by Illinois Department of Commerce acting Director Sean McCarthy after the state Employment Security Department's latest unemployment announcement.
"A decrease in unemployment is concerning when it’s the product of people leaving the labor force or giving up on finding a job," McCarthy said. "We’re not growing enough jobs for everyone that wants to work. As a result of Illinois’ subpar job growth, every day more than 1,000 people give up looking for work. We owe it to these people to make our economy grow at a more competitive rate."
Illinios' unemployment rate in July remained higher than the national unemployment rate for the same period, which held steady at 4.9 percent. Illinois' unemployment rate for July was the same as it had been during the same month last year, marking a decline for the third consecutive month. However, the labor force and the number of people unemployed in the state also saw declines, according to the press release.
The unemployment rate is determined by those in the state who are out of work and are looking for jobs. Anyone who has exhausted or is ineligible for unemployment insurance is still reflected in the unemployment rate as long as they are actively looking work.
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